Gender disparities in difficulty accessing healthcare and cost-related medication non-adherence: The CDC behavioral risk factor surveillance system (BRFSS) survey

Document Type



Office of the Provost; Cardiology


Ensuring healthcare access is critical to maintain health and prevent illness. Studies demonstrate gender disparities in healthcare access. Less is known about how these vary with age, race/ethnicity, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. We utilized cross-sectional data from 2016 to 2019 CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a U.S. telephone-based survey of adults (≥18 years). Measures of difficulty accessing healthcare included absence of healthcare coverage, delay in healthcare access, absence of primary care physician, >1-year since last checkup, inability to see doctor due to cost, and cost-related medication non-adherence. We studied the association between gender and these variables using multivariable-adjusted logistic regression models, stratifying by age, race/ethnicity, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease status. Our population consisted of 1,737,397 individuals; 54% were older (≥45 years), 51% women, 63% non-Hispanic White, 12% non-Hispanic Black,17% Hispanic, 9% reported atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. In multivariable-adjusted models, women were more likely to report delay in healthcare access: odds ratio (OR) and (95% confidence interval): 1.26 (1.11, 1.43) [p < 0.001], inability to see doctor due to cost: 1.29 (1.22, 1.36) [p < 0.001], cost-related medication non-adherence: 1.24 (1.01, 1.50) [p = 0.04]. Women were less likely to report lack of healthcare coverage: 0.71 (0.66, 0.75) [p < 0.001] and not having a primary care physician: 0.50 (0.48, 0.52) [p < 0.001]. Disparities were pronounced in younger (<45 years) and Black women. Identifying these barriers, particularly among younger women and Black women, is crucial to ensure equitable healthcare access to all individuals.


Issue No and pagination are not provided by the author/publisher. This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Preventive medicine