Start using gender statistics to improve quality of services

By using gender disaggregated statistics on health services and ambulance care, the hospital of Sahlgrenska in Gothenburg discovered large differences in the treatment of women and men suffering from cardiac intensive diseases and hip fractures.


In order to improve the quality of their services, the hospital wanted to investigate how they could guarantee equal treatment for their patients. A working group at the hospital focusing on equality issues decided to look at gender equality from the perspective of the patients and investigate if there were differences in for example the treatment of patients waiting for operations.


The mangers were also offered courses in gender training. The hospital wanted to analyze the whole “hospitality chain”, from ambulance transports to rehabilitation-actions, to ensure equal services. Regarding cardiac intensive patients, the statistics showed that women had to wait longer at the emergency unit before they were moved to the cardiac intensive care, and that men with symptoms more often were sent by ambulance to the cardiac intensive. The study also revealed that men more often were given a more expensive treatment than women. Nevertheless, men were in general less satisfied with the treatment at the cardiac health services.


When looking more closely into this domain, it appeared that scientific research on cardiac diseases previously mainly has been done on men. This could be very misleading since women’s symptoms differ significantly from men’s. Women’s symptoms are more often diffuse, which could be the reasons to the differences in treatment. Therefore, it was concluded that there was a need to for further studies on the specific needs of women in order to offer better health care.  When it came to studies of rehabilitation, it was concluded that women and men had different priorities and valued different things.


The hospital also started using gender disaggregated statistics on ambulance care for hip fracture patients. The statistics revealed that 75 percent of these patients were women with a mean age of 85 years. The statistics also showed that women got lower priority than men at the emergencies, and that they more rarely were offered painkillers. The differences could be related to the fact that hip fractures had lower priority, which resulted in patients lying to wait very long in the emergencies, provoking further problems such as bedsores.


It became clear that management needed to be improved in order to raise the quality of services offered to patients. The study concluded that some treatments could be done directly in the ambulance. A new working method was therefore introduced, where an ambulance-station and an emergency unit was set up allowing faster treatment of the fractures. All patients regardless sex were also given painkillers immediately. This innovative method of making ambulances mobile emergency units lead to more equal and efficient treatment of patients.


Conclusion: start using gender statistics and analyse the outcomes that are revealed to improve quality of services!