Concerns have been raised that women from deprived backgrounds are less likely to be receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) treatment and its benefits, although evidence in support of this is lacking.
To investigate general practice HRT prescription trends and their association with markers of socioeconomic deprivation.
Cross-sectional study of primary care prescribing data in England in 2018.
Practice-level prescribing rate was defined as the number of items of HRT prescribed per 1000 registered female patients aged ≥40 years. The association between Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) score and HRT prescribing rate was tested using multivariate Poisson regression, adjusting for practice proportions of obesity, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, and practice list size.
The overall prescribing rate of HRT was 29% lower in practices from the most deprived quintile compared with the most affluent (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.68 to 0.73). After adjusting for all cardiovascular disease outcomes and risk factors, the prescribing rate in the most deprived quintile was still 18% lower than in the least deprived quintile (adjusted IRR = 0.82; 95% CI = 0.77 to 0.86). In more deprived practices, there was a significantly higher tendency to prescribe oral HRT than transdermal preparations (<0.001).
This study highlights inequalities associated with HRT prescription. This may reflect a large unmet need in terms of menopause care in areas of deprivation. Further research is needed to identify the factors from patient and GP perspectives that may explain this.

© British Journal of General Practice 2020.