Do gender differences affect the doctor-patient interaction during consultations in general practice? Results from the INTERMEDE study

Fam Pract. 2014 Dec;31(6):706-13. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmu057. Epub 2014 Sep 11.


Objective: The aim of the study was to ascertain whether disagreement between GPs and patients on advice given on nutrition, exercise and weight loss is related to patient-doctor gender discordance. Our hypothesis is that a patient interacting with a physician of the same gender may perceive more social proximity, notably on health care beliefs and may be more inclined to trust them.

Methods: The analysis used the Intermede project's quantitative data collected via mirrored questionnaires at the end of the consultation. Multilevel logistic regressions were carried out to explore associations between patient-doctor gender discordance and their disagreement on advice given during the consultation adjusted on patients' and physicians' characteristics. The sample consists of 585 eligible patients and 27 GPs.

Results: Disagreement on advice given on nutrition was observed less often for female concordant dyads: OR = 0.25 (95% CI = 0.08-0.78), and for female doctors-male patients dyads: OR = 0.24 (95% CI = 0.07-0.84), taking the male concordant dyads as reference. For advice given on exercise, disagreement was found less often for female concordant dyads OR = 0.38 (95% CI = 0.15-0.98) and an interdoctor effect was found (P < 0.05). For advice given on weight loss, the probability of disagreement was significantly increased (OR: 2.87 95% CI = 1.29-6.41) when consultations consisted of female patient and male GP.

Conclusion: Patient-doctor gender concordance/discordance is associated with their agreement/disagreement on advice given during the consultation. Physicians need to be conscious that their own demographic characteristics and perceptions might influence the quality of prevention counseling delivered to their patients.

Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases; counselling; gender identity; healthcare disparities; physicians; physician–patient relation; primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Communication
  • Diet / psychology
  • Diet / standards
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • General Practice / methods
  • General Practice / standards*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Sex Factors
  • Weight Loss / physiology
  • Young Adult