LIVERPOOL, UK 12 September 2007: Male patients are given more certified sick leave by male doctors compared with the amount of sick notes given to females by female doctors, a University of Liverpool study has revealed.
The report, written by primary care experts at the University, indicates that male GPs are more likely to give male patients a larger amount of intermediate sick leave (6-28 weeks) from work compared with female patients certified by female doctors. The study, which is the first of its kind in the UK, is based on a survey of 3,906 patients from nine general practices across Merseyside.
Dr Mark Gabbay from the Universitys Division of Primary Care explained: The evident link between GP gender and consultation outcome could be down to differing assumptions about roles within work for male and female patients and hence capacity for work, between GPs of different gender.
On the other hand, the key to gender interaction differences might be found with the patient. Male patients may be more demanding, or better negotiators, when facing a male GP. What is not clear is whether this group do indeed have relatively greater problems, poorer coping skills, or are more sympathetically dealt with by male than female GPs.
Mild mental disorders (MMDs) such as depression and anxiety were the commonest cause of complaint by women, followed by musculoskeletal problems for which males sought a higher proportion of medical attention. The research revealed however, that male patients were granted a longer amount of sick leave for MMDs compared with female patients, by doctors of both genders groups.
Dr Gabbay explained: Previous research suggests male patients do not often present clear psychological symptoms of MMDs thus complicating diagnosis of related diseases by the GP. The complexities involved with diagnosing MMDs in males could go some way to explaining the longer sick leave granted by the doctor.
|Contact: Joanna Robotham|
University of Liverpool