BACKGROUND: When patient selection processes determine who can and cannot use healthcare there can be inequalities and inequities in individuals' opportunities to benefit. This paper evaluates the influence of a hospital selection process on opportunities to access outpatient cardiac rehabilitation (CR).
METHODS: A secondary data analysis was conducted on a cohort of inpatients (n = 2,375) who were all eligible for invitation to an Australian CR program. Eligibility was determined by hospital discharge diagnosis codes. Only invited patients could attend. Logistic regression analysis tested the extent to which individual patient characteristics were statistically significantly associated with the outcome 'invitation' after adjusting for cardiac disease and other factors.
RESULTS: Less than half of the eligible patients were invited to the CR program. After allowing for known factors that may have justified not being selected, there was bias towards inviting males, younger patients, married patients, and patients who nominated English as their preferred language.
CONCLUSIONS: Health service managers typically monitor service utilisation patterns as indicators of access but often pay little attention to ways in which locally determined system factors influence access to care. The paper shows how a hospital selection process can unreasonably influence patients' opportunities to benefit from an evidence-based healthcare program.
2010. Vol. 9, 2- p.