Objective: To assess the quality of preventive care according to physician and patient gender in a country with universal health care coverage.
Methods: We assessed a retrospective cohort study of 1001 randomly selected patients aged 50-80 years followed over 2 years (2005-2006) in 4 Swiss university primary care settings (Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Zürich). We used indicators derived from RAND's Quality Assessment Tools and examined percentages of recommended preventive care. Results were adjusted using hierarchical multivariate logistic regression models.
Results: 1001 patients (44% women) were followed by 189 physicians (52% women). Female patients received less preventive care than male patients (65.2% vs. 72.1%, p<0.001). Female physicians provided significantly more preventive care than male physicians (p=0.01) to both female (66.7% vs. 63.6%) and male patients (73.4% vs. 70.7%). After multivariate adjustment, differences according to physician (p=0.02) and patient gender (p<0.001) remained statistically significant. Female physicians provided more recommended cancer screening than male physicians (78.4 vs. 71.9%, p=0.01).
Conclusions: In Swiss university primary care settings, female patients receive less preventive care than male patients, with female physicians providing more preventive care than male physicians. Greater attention should be paid to female patients in preventive care and to why female physicians tend to provide better preventive care.
Keywords: Patient physician gender concordance; Preventive care; Primary health care; Women's health.
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