Objective: to determine, for five health problems, whether preference for a male or female general practitioner (GP) is related to patient gender, GP gender and/or patient expectations of GP behaviour.
Methods: cross-sectional study in 14 health centres in Spain, administering a questionnaire to 360 patients. Outcome variables were: preference for male GP, female GP or no preference in consultations for five hypothetical health problems.
Results: mean age was 47.3 ± 16.5 years, 51% were female. Preference was more frequently expressed by females. Odds ratios (ORs) for a woman preferring a female to male GP ranged from 3 to 508, according to the hypothetical problem, and ORs for a patient with female GP preferring a female GP ranged from 2.8 to 9.1. Patient gender and GP gender had no interactive effect on preferences. Expectations of GP behaviour were related to preferences, except for chest pain. Higher expectations of communication or technical care were associated with greater preference for female or male GP, respectively.
Conclusions: patient gender and current GP gender are related to preferences in five hypothetical clinical situations and expectations of GP behaviour to preferences in four of them.
Practice implications: educational strategies are needed to adjust clinical encounters to patients' preferences.
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