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J Epidemiol Community Health 54:714-718 doi:10.1136/jech.54.9.714
  • Public health policy and practice

Social and gender variation in the prevalence, presentation and general practitioner provisional diagnosis of chest pain

Abstract

OBJECTIVES To describe the prevalence of Rose angina and non-exertional chest pain in men and women in socioeconomically contrasting areas; to describe the proportions of men and women who present with the symptom of chest pain and who receive a provisional general practitioner diagnosis of coronary heart disease; to assess the effects of gender and deprivation.

DESIGN Two random general population samples in socially contrasting areas were surveyed using the Rose angina questionnaire: the case notes of people identified with chest pain were reviewed.

SETTING Glasgow conurbation.

PARTICIPANTS 1107 men and women, aged 45–64, with chest pain.

OUTCOME MEASURES Prevalence of Rose angina and non-exertional chest pain; the proportions who had presented with chest pain and received a general practitioner's provisional diagnosis of coronary heart disease.

RESULTS There was no difference between social groups in the prevalence of all chest pain but a greater proportion of those in deprived groups had Rose angina and a greater proportion of these had the more severe grade. The proportion of people who had presented with chest pain was higher among socioeconomically deprived groups but there was no difference in the proportions receiving a general practitioner provisional diagnosis of coronary heart disease. Men were more likely to present with chest pain than women and were more likely to receive a provisional general practitioner diagnosis of coronary heart disease.

CONCLUSIONS No evidence was found of social differences in patient presentation or general practitioner diagnosis that might explain reported variations in uptake of cardiology services. In contrast, gender variation may originate in part from differences in patient presentation and general practitioner diagnosis. Further investigation of socioeconomic variations in uptake of cardiology services should focus later in the care pathway, on general practitioner referral patterns and clinical decisions taken in secondary care.

Footnotes

  • Funding: funded by the Wellcome Trust.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.