Who would you rather have as your doctor, a man or a woman? When researchers at the University of Montreal studied this issue, they revealed significant differences between male and female physicians.
According to the Canadian study, female doctors generally supply a higher quality of care than men do. On the other hand, male doctors are more productive, according to medical industry standards.
These findings are based on information concerning more than 800 doctors in Québec, equally divided between men and women, who treated people with diabetes.
“Women had significantly higher scores in terms of compliance with practice guidelines. They were more likely than men to prescribe recommended medications and to plan required examinations,” says researcher Valérie Martel.
In their quality assessment, the researchers compared treatment to the recommendations of the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA). The CDA provides clear guidelines for clinical treatment of diabetes. According to these rules, everyone over age 65 with diabetes must have an eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist every two years. They should also receive three prescriptions for specific drugs, including statins. The CDA als advocates complete medical examin every year.
Among middle-aged doctors in the study, three out of four female physicians, for example, required their patients to have eye examinations versus 70 percent of their male counterparts. In addition, 71 percent of the women doctors prescribed the recommended medications compared to 67 percent of male doctors. A similar proportion of the women prescribed statins (68 percent versus 64 percent). Plus, 39 percent of female doctors specifically asked their patients to undergo a complete examination but only 33 percent of male doctors followed this guideline.
As for being productive, the male doctors reported nearly 1,000 more procedures per year than the women did.
The researchers, though, didn’t necessarily think that being more “productive” was a good thing. According to Régis Blais, who supervised the study, although a more productive doctor would seem more profitable for a hospital, he might not benefit people with diabetes: “Doctors who take the time to explain problems to their patients may avoid these patients returning after a month because they are worried about a detail. More productive physicians may not be the ones we think (are the most helpful.)”