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Sex differences in home care performance: a population-based study


Background — Home care services play an integral role in promoting independence, reducing hospital admission and readmission rates, and preventing or delaying nursing home admission among older adults. Despite important sex differences in functional status and use of services by recipients of home care, differences in home care performance measures by sex have not been examined.

Objective — To assess sex differences in the quality of publicly funded home care services in Ontario, Canada.

Methods — Validated, publicly reported home care quality indicators derived from the Resident Assessment Instrument for Home Care using the 2009 and 2010 Home Care Reporting System database were assessed for 119,795 Ontario home care clients aged 65 years and older. Unadjusted and risk-adjusted sex differences in performance were examined provincially and by health region.

Results — In unadjusted analyses, there were sex differences in health outcomes on all indicators examined (decline or failure to improve in activities of daily living, cognitive decline, depressive symptoms, and pain control). After risk adjustment, differences were minimal. For example, in unadjusted analyses, 23.1% of women and 18.7% of men reported poorly controlled pain. After risk adjustment, 21.2% of women and 21.6% of men reported poorly controlled pain, with a difference of -0.4% (95% CI, -0.4% to -0.3%). Across health regions risk adjustment eliminated sex differences. There was 1.3-fold to 2.6-fold variation in performance on indicators across health regions.

Conclusions — After risk adjustment, no important sex differences in home care quality indicators were identified. Sizable regional variations observed indicate potential to improve home care outcomes for both women and men. Sex differences in unadjusted analyses demonstrate the value of examining both unadjusted and adjusted outcomes and suggest sex-specific strategies will likely be needed to improve home care quality.



Lo AT, Gruneir A, Bronskill SE, Bierman AS. Womens Health Issues. 2015; 25(3):232-8. Epub 2015 Apr 15.

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