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Soc Sci Med. 1997 May;44(10):1531-40.

Patient preference for genders of health professionals.

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1
The Netherlands Institute for Primary Health Care (NIVEL), Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Preferences for physicians' gender is an obvious and well documented example of considerations of patients' attitudes. But research carried out in this field is rather limited to the domain of family medicine. This article describes preferences for 13 different health professions: surgeons, neurologists, anaesthetists, internists, general practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, hospital and district nurses, home helps, gynaecologists and midwives. Our investigation also concerns the reasons for people's preferences. In February 1993 a self-administered survey was completed and returned by 961 out of 1113 (response 86%) participants of the Dutch Health Care Consumers Panel, a panel resulting from a random sample of Dutch households. On a range of different health professions a varying minority of patients prefer a care provider of a particular gender. There are virtually no sex preferences for the more "instrumental" health professions (e.g. surgeons, anaesthetists). Gender preferences are stronger for those health professions more likely engaged in intimate and psychosocial health problems (e.g. gynaecologists and GPs). Preferences expressed do not relate to sex stereotypes of gender differences in instrumentality, expertise, efficiency, consultation length, and personal interest. The majority of persons who prefer female health professionals indicate that they talk more easily to females than to males, and feel more at ease during (internal) examination by females than by males. Persons who prefer male health professionals use the same reasons in favour of males. The discussion relates to gender differences in the communication style of male and female physicians.

PMID:
9160442
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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