Effect of evaluator and resident gender on the American board of internal medicine evaluation scores

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine the effects of resident and attending physician gender on the evaluation of residents in an internal medicine training program.

DESIGN

Cross-sectional study.

SETTING

Large urban academic internal medicine residency program.

PARTICIPANTS

During their first 2 years of training, 132 residents (85 men, 47 women) received a total of 974 evaluations from 255 attending physicians (203 men, 52 women) from 1989 to 1995.

MEASUREMENTS

The primary measurements were the numerical portions of the American Board of Internal Medicine evaluation form. Separate analyses were performed for each of the nine evaluation dimensions graded on a scale of 1 to 9. The primary outcome was the difference in the average scores received by each resident from male versus female attending physicians.

RESULTS

Compared with female trainees, male residents received significantly higher scores from male attending physicians than from female attending physicians in six of the nine dimensions: clinical judgment, history, procedures, relationships, medical care, and overall. Similar trends, not reaching conventional levels of statistical significance, were observed in the other three categories: medical knowledge, physical exam, and attitude. These differences ranged from 0.24 to 0.60 points, and were primarily due to higher grading of male residents by male attending physicians than by female attending physicians.

CONCLUSIONS

In one academic training program, we found a significant interaction in the grading process between the gender of internal medicine residents and the gender of their attending evaluators. This study raises the possibility that subtle aspects of gender bias may exist in medical training programs.

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