The effects of gender on diagnosis of psychological disturbance

J Behav Med. 1991 Oct;14(5):527-40. doi: 10.1007/BF00845109.


This research examines the effect of patient gender on the detection of psychological disturbance. In Study 1, primary-care patients were requested to complete the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), a measure of nonpsychiatric psychological disturbance, prior to their consultation. The patient's GHQ score was compared with physician judgments about the level of disturbance in that patient (N = 1913). Although there were a similar number of GHQ high scorers among males and females, the physicians classified significantly more females than males as disturbed. The doctors classified as disturbed a larger proportion of nondisturbed women than nondisturbed men. In order to explore the behavior of recent medical graduates, Study 2 examined the detection behavior of interns in an outpatient department with 384 of their patients. The interns behaved in a similar manner to the primary-care physicians.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / classification
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Personality Tests
  • Primary Health Care
  • Stereotyping*