The influence of gender concordance between general practitioner and patient on antibiotic prescribing for sore throat symptoms: a retrospective study

BMC Fam Pract. 2018 Nov 17;19(1):175. doi: 10.1186/s12875-018-0859-6.


Background: Patient gender as well as doctor gender are known to affect doctor-patient interaction during a medical consultation. It is however not known whether an interaction of gender influences antibiotic prescribing. This study examined GP's prescribing behavior of antibiotics at the first presentation of patients with sore throat symptoms in primary care. We investigated whether GP gender, patient gender and gender concordance have an effect on the GP's prescribing behavior of antibiotics in protocolled and non-protocolled diagnoses.

Methods: We analyzed electronic health record data of 11,285 GP practice consultations in the Netherlands in 2013 extracted from the Nivel Primary Care Database. Our primary outcome was the prescription of antibiotics for throat symptoms. Sore throat symptoms were split up in 'protocolled diagnoses' and 'non-protocolled diagnoses'. The association between gender concordance and antibiotic prescription was estimated with multilevel regression models that controlled for patient age and comorbidity.

Results: Antibiotic prescription was found to be lower among female GPs (OR 0.88, CI 95% 0.67-1.09; p = .265) and female patients (OR 0.93, 95% 0.84-1.02; p = .142), but observed differences were not statistically significant. The difference in prescription rates by gender concordance were small and not statistically significant in non-protocolled consultations (OR 0.92, OR 95% CI: 0.83-1.01; p = .099), protocolled consultations (OR 1.00, OR 95% CI: 0.68-1.32; p = .996) and all GP practice consultations together (OR 0.92, OR 95% CI: 0.82-1.02; p = .118). Within the female GP group, however, gender concordance was associated with reduced prescribing of antibiotics (OR 0.85, OR 95% CI: 0.72-0.99; p = 0.034).

Conclusions: In this study, female GPs prescribed antibiotics less often than male GPs, especially in consultation with female patients. This study shows that, in spite of clinical guidelines, gender interaction may influence the prescription of antibiotics with sore throat symptoms.

Keywords: Anti-bacterial agents; Drug resistance; Gender role; General practitioner; Prescriptions; Sore throat.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards*
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • Female
  • General Practitioners / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Pharyngitis / drug therapy*
  • Pharyngitis / epidemiology
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents