Chapter 3: The Moral Climate of Health Care

Section. Readings

Female MDs Deemed More Patient-Oriented


August 14, 2002

Chicago - Female primary-care doctors spend more time with their patients than male doctors and engage in more patient-oriented, emotion-focused talk during office visits, a study found.

The results suggest that gender differences noted in conversational styles also occur in the medical arena, researchers said in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Whether the differences have any impact on patient health is not known, but the results suggest that female doctors may offer "a relatively more health-promoting therapeutic milieu," health policy specialist Debra Roter of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues reported.

They reviewed and pooled results from 26 studies involving an average of more than 3,000 doctors and doctors-in-training.

Included were internists, family and general practice doctors, pediatricians, obstetrician/gynecologists and medical residents.

On average, women doctors spent 23 minutes with patients, compared with 21 minutes for men. They also spent more time talking about health-related lifestyle and social issues, engaging in positive, supportive talk and involving patients in their care.

The exception was male ob/gyns, who spent slightly more time overall with patients than their female counterparts and more time in patient-oriented, emotion-focused talk.

Dr. J. Edward Hill, a family practice doctor from Tupelo, Miss., and chairman of the AMA's board of trustees, said the study confirms "what we already know - men and women are a little bit different in their personal style. I don't think it has any bearing on the quality of medicine." Still, he said the traits noted in female physicians are desirable and said many residency training programs try to teach better communication skills.

Copyright 2002, Newsday, Inc.

Proceed to the Readings section of the chapter by clicking here> section.

Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.

Web Surfer's Caveat: These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. They should be read as such. They are not intended for publication or general distribution.

Return to:                 Table of Contents for the Online Textbook