Rural disparities in the quality of clinical care are notable and larger for males

Academic Article


  • Purpose: To investigate whether rural-urban differences in quality of care for Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees vary between females and males. Methods: Data for this study came from the 2019 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set. Linear regression was used to investigate urban-rural differences in individual MA enrollee scores on 34 clinical care measures grouped into 7 categories, and how those differences varied by sex (through evaluation of statistical interactions). Findings: Across all 7 categories of measures, scores for rural residents were worse than scores for urban residents. For 4 categories—care for patients with (suspected) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, avoiding prescription misuse, behavioral health, and diabetes care—the average difference across measures in the category was greater than 3 percentage points. Across all 34 measures, there were 15 statistically significant rural-by-sex interactions that exceeded 1 percentage point. In 11 of those cases, the deficit associated with living in a rural area was greater for males than for females. In 3 cases, the deficit associated with living in a rural area was larger for females than for males. In 1 case involving Follow-up After Hospitalization for Mental Illness, rural residents had an advantage, and it was larger for males than for females. Conclusions: Interventions may help address patient- (eg, health literacy and patient activation), provider- (eg, workforce recruitment and retention), and structural-level issues contributing to these disparities, especially for rural males.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • MacCarthy S; Elliott MN; Martino SC; Klein DJ; Haviland AM; Weech-Maldonado R; Dembosky JW; Tamayo L; Gaillot S; Schneider EC