Satisfaction, Gender, and Communication in Medical Visits

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The authors conducted two studies of routine medical visits, investigating the relation of physician gender, patient gender, and physician age to patient satisfaction, and the correlations between communication behaviors and satisfaction separately for different combinations of patient and physician gender. Study 1 was based on videotaped visits to a hospital-based internal medicine practice (n = 97 visits). Study 2 was based on audiotaped visits to 11 different community and hospital-based practices in the United States and Canada (n = 524 visits). In both studies, patients examined by younger physicians, especially younger female physicians, reported lower ratings of satisfaction. These findings were true for male and female patients; however, in both studies, the lowest satisfaction in absolute terms was among male patients examined by younger female physicians. The effects were not explained by patient and physician background characteristics or by measured communication during the visit. Correlations between verbal and nonverbal communication and satisfaction for different combinations of physician and patient gender suggested that gender-related values and expectations influence patients' reactions to physicians' behavior. There also was evidence that patient satisfaction is reflected in the patient's affective behavior during the visit.

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