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Female patients delay seeking medical care with alcohol-associated acute pancreatitis.

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Alcohol consumption is increasing in women, who more frequently report abdominal symptoms compared to men. We aimed to examine differences in presentation of acute pancreatitis [AP] in male and female patients hospitalized with alcohol-associated AP.

METHODS: We analyzed 138 patients enrolled in an ongoing case-crossover study of alcohol-associated AP conducted across 5 medical centers in the U.S. Patients meeting the Revised Atlanta Classification of AP and who scored 3 or higher on the AUDIT-C instrument were invited to participate in the study and were interviewed while hospitalized with AP. Sex differences in the timing and type of pancreas-associated pain, alcohol consumption, clinical presentation, and quality of life were examined by Chi-squared tests, Wilcoxon rank sum tests and t-tests.

RESULTS: Female patients reported significantly longer interval from onset of pain to deciding to seek medical attention (median 40 h, interquartile range [IQR] 14, 74) as compared to males (14 h, IQR 4, 50; p = 0.005). While male patients were more likely to have been admitted to the intensive care unit [ICU] (21%) as compared to female patients (7%; p = 0.04), the incidence of SIRS or severe AP did not differ by sex. Quality of life measures as reported through the PROMIS-29 instrument were equally suboptimal in both sexes. Anxiety disorders were diagnosed more frequently among females (61%) than in males (41%, p = 0.009).

CONCLUSION: In a large case series of alcohol-associated AP, we found that female patients delayed seeking medical care compared to males. However, there were no differences in the type, location and intensity of abdominal pain.

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