[Medicine is not gender-neutral: influence of physician sex on medical care]
SourceNederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 152, 20, (2008), pp. 1141-5
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde
SubjectEBP 3: Effective Primary Care and Public Health; IGMD 5: Health aging / healthy living; NCEBP 7: Effective primary care and public health
Many studies have shown that men and women differ in communication styles. The question is whether these differences also play a role during medical consultation. Potential differences between male and female physicians that have been investigated, are differences in doctor-patient communication, the diagnostic process and treatment. The communication style of female physicians is more patient-oriented than that of male physicians. Male and female physicians differ in their use of additional tests; notably, intimate examinations, such as prostatic or vaginal examinations, are performed less frequently for patients of the opposite sex. Male physicians prescribe medication more frequently; notably sedatives are prescribed more often by male physicians to female patients. Therefore, whether medical care is provided by a male or a female physician makes a difference: the professional role of the physician is not gender-neutral. Within the medical profession, male and female medical students are socialised differently, and professional socialisation does not overcome differences in gender roles. Patients are generally more satisfied with female physicians than male physicians. Knowledge of and insight into these processes is essential for improving the quality of care.
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