Original article| Volume 26, ISSUE 1, P74-79, January 2016

Gender Inequalities in Access to Health Care among Adults Living in British Columbia, Canada

  • M. Eugenia Socías
    Correspondence to: M. Eugenia Socías, MD, Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, University of British Columbia, 270, 2357 Main Mall, H. R. MacMillan Building, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4.
    Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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  • Mieke Koehoorn
    School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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  • Jean Shoveller
    School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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Published:September 15, 2015DOI:



      Existing literature is inconclusive as to whether disparities in access to health care between men and women are mainly driven by socioeconomic or gender inequalities. The aim of this study was to assess whether gender was independently associated with perceived unmet health care needs among a representative sample of British Columbia adults.


      Using data from the 2011/2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, logistic regression analyses were conducted to investigate the independent effect of gender on perceived unmet health care needs adjusting for potential individual and contextual confounders.


      Among 12,252 British Columbia adults (51.9% female), the prevalence of perceived unmet health care needs was 12.0%, with a significantly greater percentage among women compared with men (13.7% vs. 10.1%; p < .001). After adjusting for multiple confounders, women had independently increased odds of perceived unmet health care needs (adjusted odds ratio, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.11–1.68).


      The current study found that, among a representative sample of British Columbia adults and adjusting for various individual and contextual factors, female gender was associated independently with an increased odds of perceived unmet health care needs.


      These findings suggest that within Canada's universal health system, gender further explains differences in health care access, over and above socioeconomic inequalities. Interventions within and outside the health sector are required to achieve equitable access to health care for all residents in British Columbia.
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      M. Eugenia Socías, MD, is an infectious diseases specialist undertaking a MSc in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests focus on understanding barriers to health care, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations.


      Mieke Koehoorn, PhD, is a professor in the School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia. Her area of expertise is occupational epidemiology, including an interest in workers' compensation policies and programs, and in gender, work, and health.


      Jean Shoveller, PhD, is a professor in the School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia. Her area of expertise is social inequalities in health, including an interest in gender, sexual health, and reproduction.