A new study from the University of Montreal finds that there may be real differences between the care provided between female and male doctors, and that women outperformed men on certain metrics of patient care.
Valérie Martel, a masters candidate in the school’s department of health administration, Régis Blais, a professor in the department, and Roxanne Borges Da Silva, a professor of nursing, recruited 870 Quebec-based physicians—half men, half women—treating people with diabetes. To compare if a doctor’s gender affected patient behavior, the researchers evaluated physicians on three parts of standard diabetes treatment: prescribing periodic eye exams, scheduling frequent physical check-ups and keeping their patients on some mix of three different medications, such as statins to control cholesterol. On all of the metrics, the female doctors beat the males. Other research has found that female doctors tend to show greater empathy are perceived as being better listeners.
The men tended to spend less time with their patients, as evidenced by the fact that the male physicians performed, on average, 1,000 more basic treatment procedures per year than their female counterparts.
The Montreal investigators plan to broaden their findings, looking at three other manageable conditions next: hypertension, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to see if the gender-based difference applies to other conditions as well.
Male doctors shouldn't pack up their doctor kits just yet. The younger the doctors in their study were, the narrower the divide between the sexes, suggesting that hurry-up male doctors are aging out of the system, being replaced by a newer, gentler generation of male clinicians.
Question: Will new patient ratings and outcome reimbursment triggers affect this?