Examination of inattentive gender bias in medicine: Patients’ form of addressing male and female physicians

Cogent Social Sciences(2022)

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Gender bias has been found to influence both the patient and the physician populations. To date, studies in the field of gender bias which focused on patients have primarily investigated the quality of treatment and the nature of patient-physician interactions in relation to the doctor's gender. The current study intends to broaden the perspective of gender bias research by evaluating how the patient's approach towards their physician is affected by the doctor's gender. In this observational study mixed methods were used to evaluate behavioral forms of approach towards the treating physician displayed during 200 medical appointments in an outpatient surgical/medical retina clinic at the Rambam Health Care Campus, a tertiary referral center in Haifa, Israel between 2018-2019. Most patients tended to address their physician formally using "doctor" or the doctors' full name rather than using first name or nicknames (83/106). No correlation was found between the form of address and physician's gender. Male patients tended to address the male physician formally more often than female patients did (p = 0.051). In the setting studied here, patients tended to address the physicians treating them formally regardless of the physician's gender. However, differences in body language and gestures when approaching the male physician were observed, which may reflect how physician gender shapes the physician-patient relationship. Increased awareness to diverse aspects and manifestations of gender bias in clinics may promote gender equality in medical work environments.
Gender bias, Medicine, physicians, women
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