Physician Gender and Patient Centered Communication
- This study synthesizes the results of two meta-analytic reviews on the effects of physician gender on communication in medical visits.
- A communication framework that reflects patient-centeredness and the functions of the medical visit were used.
- Online database searches of English-language abstracts between 1967 to 2001
- Searched database included:
- MEDLINE, AIDSLINE, PsycINFO, and BIOETHICS
- Hand search of reprint files and the reference sections of review articles and other publications also performed.
- Studies using a communication data source such as audiotape, videotape, or direct observation were identified through bibliographic and computerized searches.
- Over 150 different variables from 23 studies were sorted into independent categories that later allowed for summarization.
- Some categories included:
- data gathering and facilitation of patient disclosure
- patient education and counseling
- emotional responsiveness
- partnership building
- Medical visits with female physicians were, on average, two minutes (10%) longer than those of male physicians.
- During these longer visits, female physicians engaged in significantly more communication that was considered patient-centered.
- They engaged in more active partnership behaviors, positive talk, psychosocial counseling, psychosocial question asking, and emotionally focused talk.
- Female physicians asked more psychosocial questions than male physicians
- Three of six studies reported significant results indicating higher levels of psychosocial questioning for female physicians, while none reported higher levels of psychosocial questioning by male physicians.
- Patients of female physicians spoke more overall, disclosed more biomedical and psychosocial information, and made more positive statements to their physicians than did the patients of male physicians.
- Male physicians demonstrated higher levels of emotionally focused talk than their female colleagues.
- Female primary care physicians and their patients engaged in more communication that can be considered patient-centered and had longer visits than did their male colleagues.