Introduction: There has been a reported increase in women's desires to have female medical providers. It is unclear if this finding extends to obstetrician/gynecologists or how important gender is relative to other factors in choosing a provider. This study seeks to address these issues.
Methods and materials: In community locations in Brooklyn, New York, 537 women completed a questionnaire regarding demographics, gender of their current provider, and whether they considered age, gender, experience, location, or cost to be the most important factor in choosing an obstetrician/gynecologist. They rated their current experience and the importance of gender using a 10-point Likert scale.
Results: Overall, 61% of participants preferred a female provider. The proportion did not vary with gender of the interviewer or participants' age. A female provider was preferred by 56% of Protestants, 58% of Catholics, and 58% of Jews and by 74% of Hindus and 89% of Muslims (p = 0.02). Regardless of whether a woman preferred a male or a female provider, 38% of participants felt strongly (7-10 on Likert scale) that gender was important. There was no difference in satisfaction with current provider between women who preferred a male or female provider. Gender was as important in choosing an obstetrician as experience or cost. Almost as many women with a female provider indicated a preference for a male (46%) as women with a male provider who preferred a female provider (54%).
Conclusions: A slight majority of these women, particularly those who are Hindu or Moslem or currently use a female, prefer female providers. Only a minority of these women feel strongly about their preference, and women with male providers are as satisfied as are women with female providers. Gender of provider was about as important as a physician's experience in choice of clinician.