The influence of gender on the doctor-patient interaction

Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Sep;76(3):356-60. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.07.022. Epub 2009 Aug 3.


Objective: This paper discusses the research focused on gender issues in healthcare communication.

Methods: The majority of papers discussed here are based on a research study in which 509 new adult patients were prospectively and randomly assigned to family practice or internal medicine clinics at a university medical center and followed for one year of care.

Results: There are significant differences in the practice style behaviors of female and male doctors. Female doctors provide more preventive services and psychosocial counseling; male doctors spend more time on technical practice behaviors, such as medical history taking and physical examination. The patients of female doctors are more satisfied, even after adjusting for patient characteristics and physician practice style. Female patients make more medical visits and have higher total annual medical charges; their visits include more preventive services, less physical examination, and fewer discussions about tobacco, alcohol and other substance abuse (controlling for health status and sociodemographic variables). The examination of gender concordant and discordant doctor-patient dyads provides a unique strategy for assessing the effect of gender on what takes place during the medical visit.

Conclusion: Doctor and patient gender can impact the physician-patient interaction and its outcomes.

Practice implications: The development of appropriate strategies for the implementation of knowledge about physician and patient gender differences will be crucial for the delivery of high quality gender-sensitive healthcare.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Sex Factors