The association between inquiry about emotional distress and women's satisfaction with their family physician: findings from a national survey

Women Health. 2007;45(1):51-67. doi: 10.1300/J013v45n01_04.


Background: Women appear to be more vulnerable than men to emotional distress (ED) However, ED often goes unrecognized by family physicians.

Purpose: To (1) assess the rate of inquiry about ED by family physicians and (2) explore the association between physician's inquiry about ED and women's satisfaction with care.

Methods: Telephone interviews were conducted in 2003 using a structured questionnaire in a representative sample of 991 Israeli women aged 22 years or older, with a response rate of 84%.

Results: 33% of women reported ED during the past year but only 15% of women reported having discussed ED with their family physician in the last year. Higher rates of discussion of ED with the physician were found among women who had experienced ED (22.5%), those who had a chronic illness (20.1%) had low income (22.7%), and were Arabic (29.5%) or Russian speakers (26.3%). Multivariate analysis indicated that women who had discussed ED with their physician expressed higher satisfaction with the physicians professional level (OR = 6.85), attitude (OR = 2.45), spending enough time (OR = 2.90), and listening to the patient (OR = 3.19), compared with women who had not discussed ED with their physician.

Conclusions: Given the current low rates of inquiry about ED, it appears that developing sensitivity to women's emotional concerns and encouraging physicians to inquire about ED should be given higher priority in medical education at all levels. Furthermore, since inquiry about ED not only improves the appropriateness of care but is also associated with higher satisfaction with the physician, organizations in a competitive health care environment may have a particular interest in promoting this practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Women's Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Women's Health*