How Gender Influences Physician Preference and Health Outcomes

physician genderWhen you need medical care, do you consider the gender of your physician?  While many have no preference, studies are revealing that many patients do prefer male or female physicians specifically.  Moreover, we are learning that the factors that may determine a patient’s preference for a doctor of a certain gender can be widely varied.  A 2018 survey of over 7,000 Americans took a deep dive into physician preference and how it may be influenced.  Here are some key findings, as well as what they may mean for your own, personal health care.

Patient Gender and Physician Gender Preference

The clearest instances of preference fell along gender lines.  While fairly evenly split, many respondents reported preferring to see a physician of the same sex.  This was particularly true for women, with 46 percent opting for a female physician and only 6 percent preferring a male doctor specifically (others had no preference or were unsure). 

Age and Physician Gender Preference

The next most significant findings regarding physician gender preference are based on patient age.  As patients get older, the majority tend to fall into the “no preference” category.   However, for both men and women in the 18 – 24 age bracket, female doctors are preferred.  In fact, as many as 44 percent report that they feel most comfortable when seeing a female physician.

Physician Gender Influences Heart Health

Gender doesn’t just matter regarding the physician administering medical care.  When it comes to heart-related conditions such as heart attack, the gender of the patient has been shown to have a significant impact on outcomes.  While heart disease is the number killer of both men and women in the United States, the symptoms and onset of heart trouble can look and feel very different between the sexes.  For this reason, women tend to wait longer than men to seek medical care and typically take longer to receive a diagnosis once they do.  During a heart attack, when mere moments can make the difference between life and death, these disparities can dramatically impact outcomes.

While both male and female physicians may be equally capable of providing quality and life-saving care to patients of both genders, the fact that female patients are generally more comfortable with female doctors is a factor that likely influences their heart health.  Simply put, gender concordance of patients and their physicians can lead to clearer communication and a comfort level that allows women in particular to open up to their doctor in a way that gives the physician treating them greater insight into their condition.

Finding a Female Cardiologist

The bottom line in selecting your own physician is that the best levels of care are achieved when you are most comfortable and able to communicate openly.  If you are one of the patients for whom this means seeing a female doctor, Cardiovascular Institute of the South may be the best option for your heart care.  With a team of skilled, experienced and highly-qualified female cardiologists across south Louisiana and Mississippi, we likely have a physician convenient to you.  To learn more about our women’s program and female doctors, click the button below.

CIS Women's Program

 

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff