Do patients talk differently to male and female physicians? A meta-analytic review

Patient Educ Couns. 2002 Dec;48(3):217-24. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(02)00174-x.


A meta-analytic review was undertaken of seven observational studies which investigated the relation between physician gender and patient communication in medical visits. In five of the studies the physicians were in general practice, internal medicine, or family practice and were seeing general medical patients, and in two of the studies the physicians were in obstetrics-gynecology and were seeing women for obstetrical or gynecological care. Significant findings revealed that, overall, patients spoke more to female physicians than to male physicians, disclosed more biomedical and psychosocial information, and made more positive statements to female physicians. Patients also were rated as more assertive toward female physicians and tended to interrupt them more. Several results were weaker, or even reversed, in the two obstetrics-gynecology studies. Partnership statements were made significantly more often to female than male physicians in general medical visits but not in obstetrical-gynecological visits.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Assertiveness
  • Attitude to Health
  • Communication*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Family Practice
  • Gynecology
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine
  • Male
  • Men / psychology
  • Negativism
  • Obstetrics
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians, Women / psychology*
  • Research Design
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sex*
  • Social Behavior
  • Time Factors
  • Women / psychology