Published Papers - Abstract 165

Young A, Lowe J, Byles J & Patterson A. Trends in health service use for women in Australia with diabetes. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2005; 29(5): 422-428

Objective: To describe the health, health service use and use of recommended guidelines for care for women in Australia with diabetes. Methods: Analysis of survey data 1996-1999 from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, linked with Medicare data for 1997-2001. Participants were 12,338 mid-age women aged 45-50 years in 1996 (1.9% with diabetes) and 10,421 older women aged 70-75 years at Survey 1 in 1996 (8.1% with diabetes). The outcome measures were number of general practice and specialist visits and use of glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c), lipids and microalbuminuria tests. Results: Women with diabetes at Survey 1, and those diagnosed by Survey 2, were more likely to have hypertension, heart disease and eyesight problems, have high rates of polypharmacy (four or more medications: mid age 32%, older 64%) and more consultations with general practitioners and specialists than women without diabetes. During 1997-2001 there was a trend for a greater percentage of women with diabetes to have an HbA1c test at least annually (mid age 44%-52%, older age 46%-58%). Rates of testing microalbuminuria and lipids also increased but were far from conforming to guidelines. Having more frequent consultations with a general practitioner was significantly associated with having all three recommended tests.Conclusions: There is an increasing use of services by women with diabetes, in part due to an increase in compliance with guidelines for the management of diabetes. Implications: Linked health and administrative data provide a means to monitor health service utilisation, adherence to principles for best practice care and issues of equity in care.