Open Access Research article

Inequalities in health and health service utilisation among reproductive age women in St. Petersburg, Russia: a cross-sectional study

Tatiana Dubikaytis1*, Meri Larivaara2, Olga Kuznetsova1 and Elina Hemminki2

Author Affiliations

1 St. Petersburg Medical Academy of Postgraduate Studies, 193015 Kirochnaja ul. 41, St. Petersburg, Russia

2 National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), P.O. Box 30, 00271 Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:307  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-307

Published: 11 November 2010



Russian society has faced dramatic changes in terms of social stratification since the collapse of the Soviet Union. During this time, extensive reforms have taken place in the organisation of health services, including the development of the private sector. Previous studies in Russia have shown a wide gap in mortality between socioeconomic groups. There are just a few studies on health service utilisation in post-Soviet Russia and data on inequality of health service use are limited. The aim of the present study was to analyse health (self-rated health and self-reported chronic diseases) and health care utilisation patterns by socioeconomic status (SES) among reproductive age women in St. Petersburg.


The questionnaire survey was conducted in 2004 (n = 1147), with a response rate of 67%. Education and income were used as dimensions of SES. The association between SES and health and use of health services was assessed by logistic regression, adjusting for age.


As expected low SES was associated with poor self-rated health (education: OR = 1.48; personal income: OR = 1.42: family income: OR = 2.31). University education was associated with use of a wider range of outpatient medical services and increased use of the following examinations: Pap smear (age-adjusted OR = 2.06), gynaecological examinations (age-adjusted OR = 1.62) and mammography among older (more than 40 years) women (age-adjusted OR = 1.98). Personal income had similar correlations, but family income was related only to the use of mammography among older women.


Our study suggests a considerable inequality in health and utilisation of preventive health service among reproductive age women. Therefore, further studies are needed to identify barriers to health promotion resources.