Taking care of patients--does it matter whether the physician is a woman?

West J Med. 1988 Dec;149(6):729-33.


Researchers have recently begun to compare male and female physicians' attitudes toward patients, medical knowledge, and practice styles. Although women start medical school with more "humanistic views," the conservative effect of medical socialization on both male and female students attenuates these differences. While some studies suggested that men are more scientifically knowledgeable, recent studies showed no significant differences in physicians' medical knowledge. Male and female physicians also had comparable diagnostic and therapeutic behavior. In the intimate world of physicians and patients, however, there were notable differences. Women physicians seemed better able to communicate sensitivity and caring to patients, which may account for the common perception that women are more caring and empathic physicians. Medical educators may wish to study more closely female physicians' communication styles to identify these behaviors and inculcate them into all physicians.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Women* / psychology