Age-related references in national public health, technology appraisal and clinical guidelines and guidance: documentary analysis
BACKGROUND There is a growing literature suggesting that access to cardiology services is affected by age. However, there is a dearth of studies that have considered age and sex in conjunction. AIM This study aims to examine the impact of age, and its interaction with sex, on reported healthcare seeking, based on responses to symptom vignettes, in an attempt to standardise symptomatology across all responders. DESIGN OF STUDY A cross-sectional survey design was utilised. SETTING Primary care. METHOD A random sample of 911 individuals, stratified by sex, was selected from one practice in the UK. Participants were invited to state how they would react in response to the chest pain symptoms presented. Patterns of response were examined, by age and sex, using chi2 and logistic regression models. RESULTS This study identified differences by age and sex in a general practice population in the propensity to seek health care. In particular, men aged 60-69 years and women aged 70 years and over were more likely to report healthcare seeking than younger responders. For example, women aged 70 years and over had over three times greater odds of reporting contact with the GP compared to the reference category. Evidence for an interaction effect between age and sex was observed. CONCLUSION The results suggest that the inequity that has been demonstrated in access to cardiology services by age is not likely to be due to the patient's illness behaviour as, overall, older people are more likely than younger people to be willing to consult their doctors.