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Gender differences in home care clients and admission to long-term care in Ontario, Canada: a population-based retrospective cohort study

Gruneir A, Forrester J, Camacho X, Gill SS, Bronskill SE. BMC Geriatr. 2013; 13:48. Epub 2013 May 16.


Background — Home care is integral to enabling older adults to delay or avoid long-term care (LTC) admission. To date, there is little population-based data about gender differences in home care users and their subsequent outcomes. Study objectives were to quantify differences between women and men who used home care in Ontario, Canada and to determine if there were subsequent differences in LTC admission.

Methods — This is a population-based retrospective cohort study. The researchers identified all adults aged 76+ years living in Ontario and receiving home care on April 1, 2007 (baseline). Using the Resident Assessment Instrument -- Home Care (RAI-HC) linked to other databases, the researchers characterized the cohort by living condition, health and functioning, and identified all acute care and LTC use in the year following baseline.

Results — The cohort consisted of 51,201 women and 20,102 men. Women were older, more likely to live alone, and more likely to rely on a child or child-in-law for caregiver support. Men most frequently identified a spouse as caregiver and their caregivers reported distress twice as often as women's caregivers. Men had higher rates of most chronic conditions and were more likely to experience impairment. Men were more likely to be admitted to hospital, to have longer stays in hospital, and to be admitted to LTC.

Conclusions — Understanding who uses home care and why is critical to ensuring that these programs effectively reduce LTC use. The researchers found that women outnumbered men but that men presented with higher levels of need. This detailed gender analysis highlights how needs differ between older women, men, and their respective caregivers.

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Keywords: Home care Long-term care Social determinants of health

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