Disparities in outcomes associated with rural-urban insurance status in China among inpatient women with stroke: a registry-based cohort study

Hong-Qiu Gu, Xin Yang, Zhen-Zhen Rao, Chun-Juan Wang, Xing-Quan Zhao, Yi-Long Wang, Li-Ping Liu, Chelsea Liu, Hao Li, Zi-Xiao Li, Yong-Jun Wang, on behalf of China National Stroke Registries investigators


Background: Despite a few studies have demonstrated sex differences in stroke care and outcomes, limited research has explored insurance-related disparities in outcomes, particularly among women stroke patients. The aim was to determine whether rural-urban health insurance status affect the stroke treatment, process of care, and 1-year clinical outcomes for inpatient ischemic stroke in women.
Methods: Women patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS) covered by New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme (NRCMS) and urban resident/employee-based basic medical insurance scheme (URBMI/UEBMI) were abstracted from the China National Stroke Registry II (CNSR II). Shared frailty model in the Cox model or generalized estimating equation with consideration of the hospital’s cluster effect were used to assess the associations between rural-urban insurance status and quality of care during hospitalization and 1-year stroke outcomes including all-cause death, 1-year recurrence, and 1-year disability.
Results: A total of 5,707 women patients enrolled from 219 hospitals in CNSR II were analyzed. Compared with 2,880 women patients covered by URBMI/UEBMI, 2,827 women patients covered by NRCMS were younger (65.7 versus 68.9 years), less likely to have vascular risk factors, awareness and treatment of hypertension and dyslipidemia prior to stroke. Women covered by NRCMS were more likely to receive early antithrombotics, discharge antithrombotics, lipid-lowering drugs, but less likely to receive antihypertensive medication than those covered by URBMI/UEBMI. One-year all-cause mortality and stroke recurrence were both significantly higher in women patients with NRCMS than those with URBMI/UEBMI [adjusted hazard ratio (95% confidence interval): 1.40 (1.06–1.84) and 1.38 (1.04–1.83), separately].
Conclusions: AIS women patients with rural-urban insurance status demonstrated remarkable differences in age, stroke risk factors, awareness and treatment, the process of care, and 1-year stroke recurrence and mortality. Healthcare policymakers need to focus their attention on these disparities and take proper steps to improve primary healthcare service in rural areas.