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J Gen Intern Med. 2013 Apr;28(4):561-6. doi: 10.1007/s11606-012-2256-5. Epub 2012 Nov 9.

Does patient gender impact resident physicians' approach to the cardiac exam?

Author information

1
Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health, Department of Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 1215 21st Ave South, 6000 Medical Center East, NT, Nashville, TN 37232-8300, USA. rosette.j.chakkalakal@vanderbilt.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Physical examination remains an important part of the initial evaluation of patients presenting with chest pain but little is known about the effect of patient gender on physician performance of the cardiovascular exam.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine if resident physicians are less likely to perform five key components of the cardiovascular exam on female versus male standardized patients (SPs) presenting with acute chest pain.

DESIGN:

Videotape review of SP encounters during Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) administered by the Emory University Internal Medicine Residency Program in 2006 and 2007. Encounters were reviewed to assess residents' performance of five cardiac exam skills: auscultation of the aortic, pulmonic, tricuspid, and mitral valve areas and palpation for the apical impulse.

PARTICIPANTS:

One hundred forty-nine incoming residents.

MAIN MEASURES:

Residents' performance for each skill was classified as correct, incorrect, or unknown.

KEY RESULTS:

One hundred ten of 149 (74 %) of encounters were available for review. Residents were less likely to correctly perform each of the five skills on female versus male SPs. This difference was statistically significant for auscultation of the tricuspid (p = 0.004, RR = 0.62, 95 % CI 0.46-0.83) and mitral (p = 0.007, RR = 0.58, 95 % CI = 0.41-0.83) valve regions and palpation for the apical impulse (p < 0.001, RR = 0.27, 95 % CI = 0.16-0.47). Male residents were less likely than female residents to correctly perform each maneuver on female versus male SPs. The interaction of SP gender and resident gender was statistically significant for auscultation of the mitral valve region (p = 0.006) and palpation for the apical impulse (p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS:

We observed significant differences in the performance of key elements of the cardiac exam for female versus male SPs presenting with chest pain. This observation represents a previously unidentified but potentially important source of gender bias in the evaluation of patients presenting with cardiovascular complaints.

PMID:
23138759
PMCID:
PMC3599025
DOI:
10.1007/s11606-012-2256-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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