Do Women or Men Make the Best Doctors?

By Cara Murez
Health Day reporter

MONDAY, July 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) – When you’re hospitalized you’ll want trained healthcare professionals to treat you, but does it matter whether your doctor is male or female?

It’s possible.

A new study in Canada has found that patients treated by female physicians had lower hospital death rates than male physicians.

“Our study overall shows that female physicians have lower patient mortality rates than patients of their male colleagues, but the difference could not be explained on the basis of imaging tests, CT scans, ultrasound, etc. Sergeant Anjali.

“However, the lower death rate among female physician patients is partly explained by the fact that a higher proportion of new medical graduates are women and that these new graduates may be more up to date,” a added the sergeant, a medical student at McMaster. University in Ontario.

The study was prompted by previous research in a primary care setting that suggested there might be differences in the practice of male and female physicians. This included reports that female physicians spent more time with patients, provided more patient-centered care, and cared for empathy. An American study, carried out in 2017, also found a similar difference in patient mortality depending on the sex of the doctor.

The new research included patients admitted to the general practice departments of seven Ontario hospitals between April 2010 and October 2017. Patients received care from a general internist or hospitalist family physician.

Half of the more than 171,000 patients were over 73 years old. They were seen by 172 doctors, 54 women and 118 men.

Women doctors ordered more diagnostic imaging tests, but that didn’t explain the modest difference in death rates.

The study team found that 4.8% of patients treated by female doctors died in hospital, compared with 5.2% of patients from male doctors. The difference was 0.47%, similar to the 0.43% difference found in the US study involving Medicare patients.

“I think because the Canadian and American health care systems are so different, one would expect the results to be difficult to replicate, but it looks like we had a similar result,” said Sgt.

The results remained the same when the research team adjusted for different patient characteristics. But the team found the difference to be statistically insignificant when taking into account the number of years doctors have been in practice.

“What this told us is that patients with female physicians may have better outcomes in part because more women make up more new medical graduates in Canada,” the sergeant said, noting that some evidence suggest that new medical graduates, men and women, may be more up to date on clinical guidelines.

But the sergeant added that she would like to see more research on the death rate gap. She and her colleagues also warned against perpetuating gender stereotypes.

Dr Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber is Professor of Medicine at the Augusta University / University of Georgia Medical Partnership in Athens, Georgia.

Men and women bring different strengths to work, she said. Women are more often home caregivers and they bring that perspective to their work, added Rohr-Kirchgraber, who was not in the study.

“We think about what will happen when [patients] going home, who’s going to be with them, “Rohr-Kirchgraber said.” It’s not just about care while you’re in the hospital, it’s about looking ahead to what’s going to happen when you get out of it. ”

These types of studies are important because female physicians still don’t make as much money as their male counterparts, Rohr-Kirchgraber said. Citing other research, she said that about 40% of female doctors give up practicing medicine or cut back on their hours within six years of completing their training.

“Talking about making the doctor shortage worse, and it’s not because we’re not smart enough or good enough. It has to do with the fact that there is such injustice when you walk into the place of. work, ”said Rohr-Kirchgraber. She called for paid family leave policies that would benefit both male and female doctors, and more transparency on wages.

“When you design policies like family leave that promote family formation, you are helping the whole family, not just female doctors, but also men,” Rohr-Kirchgraber said.

The results were published online July 16 in JAMA Health Forum.

More information

The Association of American Medical Colleges has more information on the changing physician workforce.

SOURCES: Anjali Sergent, BASc, medical student, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, past president of the American Medical Women’s Association and professor of medicine, Augusta University / University of Georgia Medical Partnership, Athens, Georgia; JAMA Health Forum, July 16, 2021, online

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