Purpose: To examine whether women seeking care from obstetrician-gynaecologists prefer to see a female or a male doctor or have no preference.
Methods: Five hundred consecutive women attending gynaecology and antenatal clinics were asked to complete a survey questionnaire containing 12 items requiring opinion on whether they want to be seen by a female or male obstetrician-gynaecologist or have no preference. It also contained questions regarding their reasons for the stated preference.
Results: Of the consecutive 500 patients that were given the questionnaire, 435 responded (87% response rate). Two hundred and twenty-five patients had no preference, 194 patients preferred female obstetrician-gynaecologist and 16 patients preferred male obstetrician-gynaecologist. The reasons stated by women who preferred to see a female doctor were as follows: religious beliefs-5%, understands problems better-48%, unspecified reasons-6%, issues of personal modesty-41%. All 16 women who preferred to see a male doctor stated the reason as 'understands problems better' (100%).
Conclusions: The majority of women expressed no preference to either gender of their obstetrician and gynaecologists, but significant proportion of the remainder would prefer to see a female doctor when given the choice. Although women gave a variety of subjective reasons for this, demographically it appears that women who are less educated with lower income and being non-white are more likely to prefer to see a female doctor.