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Objective: To assess the association of physician gender with patient ratings of physician care. Design: Interviewer-administered survey and follow-up interviews 1 week after emergency department (ED) visit. Setting: Public hospital ED. Patients/Participants: English- and Spanish-speaking adults presenting for care of nonemergent problems; of 852 patients interviewed in the ED who were eligible for follow-up, 727 (85%) completed a second interview. Measurements And Main Results: We conducted separate ordered logistic regressions for women and men to determine the unique association of physician gender with patient ratings of 5 interpersonal aspects of care, their trust of the physician, and their overall ratings of the physician, controlling for patient age, health status, language and interpreter status, literacy level, and expected satisfaction. Female patients trusted female physicians more (P =.003) than male physicians and rated female physicians more positively on the amount of time spent (P =.01), on concern shown (P =.04), and overall (P =.03). Differences in ratings by female patients of male and female physicians in terms of friendliness (P =.13), respect shown (P =.74), and the extent to which the physician made them feel comfortable (P =.10) did not differ significantly. Male patients rated male and female physicians similarly on all dimensions of care (overall, P =.74; friendliness, P =.75; time spent, P =.30; concern shown, P =.62; making them feel comfortable, P =.75; respect shown, P =.13; trust, P =.92). Conclusions: Having a female physician was positively associated with women’s satisfaction, but physician gender was not associated with men’s satisfaction. Further studies are needed to identify reasons for physician gender differences in interpersonal care delivered to women.

Originally published in: Journal of General Internal Medicine, v. 16, no. 4, April 2001, pp. 218-226.

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