Swedish Health and Medical Services act states that good care should be given to the entire population on equal terms. Still studies show that access to care in Sweden differ related to for example gender and socioeconomic variables. One of the areas in Swedish health care that has attracted attention for potential inequity in access is Cataract Extraction (CE). Previous studies of access to CE in Sweden show that female patients have in general poorer vision before they are operated and longer waiting times for CE than male patients. The aim of the study was to describe the waiting times in different patient groups with regards to visual acuity, gender, age, native country, educational level, annual income and whether the patient was retired or still working.
The study was designed as a register study of 102 532 patients who have had CE performed in Sweden 2010-2011. Linear regression was used to analyse the association between patient characteristics and waiting times. Mean waiting times for women and men were calculated for all groups.
At significance level p < 0.05 longer waiting times corresponded to patients having good visual acuity, being of female gender, high age, retired, born outside the Nordic countries and having low income and education. Calculations of mean waiting times for all groups showed that women had longer waiting times than men.
The differences between groups defined, for example, by gender, age, native country, income, education and retirement are statistically significant. We do not consider them as clinically significant, but we consider the consistent pattern that we have found noteworthy in relation to the principle of equity in health care.