Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

Progress in Eliminating Gender Disparities in Health Care Quality Is Mixed

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: May 9, 2007

Although there are signs of improvement in some conditions, differences in the quality of health care provided to men and women continue to persist, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The good news:

  • In 2004, about as many women with Medicare (85 percent) received recommended care in the hospital after a heart attack as male Medicare patients (86 percent). As recently as 2002, only 79 percent of female Medicare patients received the recommended treatment after a heart attack as compared to 81 percent of male Medicare patients. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both women and men.
  • Women were more likely than men to have a usual source of ongoing health care in 2004 (90 compared with 83 percent). Across all income level groups and for most racial and ethnic groups, women reported having a usual source of ongoing care more often than men. A usual source of care is associated with lower costs and improved health outcomes.

However, there is bad news:

  • Women were more likely than men to be hospitalized for high blood pressure in 2003—56 versus 38 per 100,000 population. Hospitalization for high blood pressure usually can be avoided if patients have good quality primary care.
  • Women ages 50 years and older were less likely than men to receive recommended colorectal cancer screening—50 percent compared with 54 percent in 2003.
  • There are disparities among women by race and ethnicity. For example, although only half of all white women are screened for colorectal cancer at age 50 or older, the rates among Hispanic and Black women are even lower—38 percent and 44 percent, respectively.
  • Only 71 percent of American Indian-Alaska Native women, 76 percent of black women, and about 78 percent of Hispanic women start prenatal care in the first three months of pregnancy, compared with 86 percent of White women.

This AHRQ News and Numbers summary is based on data from the 2006 National Healthcare Quality Report, which examines the quality of health care across America in four key areas—effectiveness of health care, patient safety, timeliness of care, and patient centeredness.

For additional information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of May 2007


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care