Background: Patient-centered care (PCC) is thought to significantly influence the process of care and its outcomes and has been identified as part of a comprehensive strategy for improving our nation's healthcare delivery system. Patient and physician gender, as well as gender concordance, may influence the provision of PCC.
Methods: Patients (315 women, 194 men) were randomized to care by primary care resident physicians (48 women, 57 men). Sociodemographic information, history of health risk behaviors (tobacco use, alcoholism, and obesity), and self-reported global pain and health status were collected before the first visit. That visit and subsequent patient visits to the primary care physician (PCP) were videotaped during the year-long study period. PCC was measured by coding all videotapes using a modified version of the Davis Observation Code.
Results: No significant gender differences in PCC were found between the male and female patients; however, female physicians provided increased PCC to their patients. The greatest amount of PCC was seen in the female patient-female physician gender dyad. Regression analyses, controlling for other patient variables, confirmed that female concordant dyads were associated with a greater amount of PCC. There was no significant relationship for the male patient-male physician concordance (vs. disconcordance).
Conclusions: These findings highlight the influence of gender in the process of care and provision of PCC. Gender concordance in female patient-female physician dyads demonstrated significantly more PCC. Further research in other clinical settings using other measures of PCC is needed. A public mandate to provide care that is patient-centered has implications for medical education.