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Large study finds that physician gender does not affect patient-care costs or mortality
Date:3/13/2013

Female doctors' patients do not use health-care services more or die less frequently than patients treated by male doctors, a prospective, observational study by researchers at UC Davis Health System has found.

The study, published in the March-April issue of The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, is the first large, nationwide evaluation of the association between provider gender and patients' use of health-care services and mortality.

"Our findings suggest that if the goal is to contain costs and the risk of death, there is no reason to differentially recruit or train physicians of either gender," said lead author Anthony Jerant, professor of family and community medicine at UC Davis. "We should instead focus on factors such as patients' cigarette smoking and diet, which are known to influence health-care utilization and mortality."

Jerant and his colleagues analyzed the responses of a representative sample of 21,365 patients aged 18 years and older who participated in the U.S. Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys from 2002 to 2008. They found that the genders of the participants' usual sources of health care, regardless of specialty field, did not affect patient health-care or prescription-drug expenditures, deaths or the number of visits to hospitals, emergency rooms and medical offices. A usual source of care was defined as any medical professional, doctor's office, clinic, health center or other place the patient would go if sick or needing health advice.

The authors noted that their outcomes contradict the results of previous investigations suggesting that patient-centered communications and related medical-practice behaviors frequently associated with female providers may lower patients' use of health-care services and costs. In addition to being smaller than the current study, those prior investigations did not account extensively for patient health behaviors and characteristics, including weight a
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Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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