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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


TRAVASSOS, Cláudia; VIACAVA, Francisco; PINHEIRO, Rejane  and  BRITO, Alexandre. Utilization of health care services in Brazil: gender, family characteristics, and social status. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2002, vol.11, n.5-6, pp.365-373. ISSN 1680-5348.

Objective. To investigate the pattern of utilization of health care services by men and by women in Brazil. Methods. We used data from the Brazilian National Household Sample Survey (Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios) carried out in 1998. Logistic regression models were developed to analyze information concerning men and women who had and who did not have restrictions in their routine activities due to health problems during the 15 days before the survey. The individual variables considered were: labor market position (type of employment), amount of schooling completed, and race. Also analyzed were family-related variables: per capita family income, size of the family, and, for the head of the family, the amount of schooling and labor market position. The two-level models (with family and individual variables) showed an effect from family characteristics, but the variables analyzed did not explain that effect. Results. Women used health services more often than did men, even after controlling for restrictions in routine activities due to health reasons. The use of health services by men and women was dependent on family income and on the social status of the individual, indicating a pattern of social inequality. In both the group with restrictions in their activities and in the group without such restrictions, the men and women differed from each other in their utilization of health care services. Family variables were more important in explaining the utilization of health services among people without restrictions in their activities. Conclusions. Policies aimed at reducing inequalities in access to health care services must take into consideration the differences between women and men as well as the importance of family characteristics. It is also important to stress the need to include the dimensions of gender and family in the design of health service utilization models.

Keywords : Acesso aos serviços de saúde; utilização de serviços de saúde.

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