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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


SANCHEZ-RECIO, Raquel; ALONSO, Juan Pablo  and  AGUILAR-PALACIO, Isabel. The use of health care services in the Great Recession: evaluating inequalities in the Spanish context. Gac Sanit [online]. 2020, vol.34, n.3, pp.245-252.  Epub Oct 13, 2020. ISSN 0213-9111.


To analyse the effect of the Great Recession (2008) on primary care (PC) and secondary care (SC) inequalities in Spain.


Repeated cross-sectional study using Spanish Health Surveys from 2001 to 2017 (n = 139,566). Prevalence of PC and SC utilization were calculated standardized by age. Chi square tests for trend were conducted to explore the evolution. We performed logistic regression analyses adjusted by the Andersen's model of demand for care to explore inequalities prior to, during and following the recession. All the analyses were stratified by sex.


Healthcare use trends changed from a rapid increase in the pre-recession period to a plateau during the recession and a decrease in the post-recession period. Healthcare use was higher in women (PC: 15.8% to 32.5%; SC: 8.2% to 16.2%) than in men (PC: 11.3% to 24.1%; SC: 5.4% to 11.6%) and the gender gap increased. During the recession the likelihood of PC use was higher in disadvantaged groups, while SC had greater usage amongst more advantaged social groups. Inequalities in SC use increased during the recession and could not be attributed to factors of need.


Healthcare use trends changed as a result of the recession. There are socioeconomic inequalities in the use of PC and SC in Spain, which increased in secondary care, during the recession and in the post-recession period. It is necessary to take into account socioeconomic determinants in health planning, in order to achieve equity in healthcare services.

Keywords : Inequalities; Health care services; Recession; Economic crisis; Primary care; Secondary care.

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