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Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Nov;94(5 Pt 1):659-65.

Characteristics of female obstetrician-gynecologists in the United States.

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  • 1Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3219, USA.



To describe characteristics of United States female obstetrician-gynecologists, a large and growing group, and to contrast them with other female physicians.


We contrasted data from 313 obstetrician-gynecologists to data from 4132 other female physician respondents to the Women Physicians' Health Study, a national questionnaire-based study.


Obstetrician-gynecologists assumed fewer domestic responsibilities, reported higher personal and household incomes, and were more likely to be in a group practice than other female physicians. Female obstetrician-gynecologists' personal health behaviors and other personal characteristics, career satisfaction, and desire to remain in their specialty were similar to those of other female physicians. Obstetrician-gynecologists did more counseling and screening than primary care physicians (family and general practitioners and internists) with respect to breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Obstetrician-gynecologists performed equivalently to primary care physicians with respect to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), colorectal cancer, blood pressure, weight, exercise, and smoking, performed like other specialists with respect to cholesterol, skin cancer, and flu vaccine, and between these two groups with respect to nutrition and alcohol. Obstetrician-gynecologists' perceived relevance of, training in, and confidence regarding counseling were higher for HRT and breast cancer compared with other physicians.


Obstetrician-gynecologists have many similarities with other female physicians, including level of career satisfaction, but earned more and assumed fewer domestic responsibilities. Although obstetrician-gynecologists counseled more than other specialists, with the increasing role of obstetrician-gynecologists as primary care doctors, it is noteworthy that female obstetrician-gynecologists frequently provide gynecologic-specific preventive care, but are less likely to address other non-obstetric-gynecologic areas of prevention. This finding could be transformed by continued changes in the education of residents and practicing physicians.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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