Do Male and Female General Practitioners Differently Prescribe Chronic Pain Drugs to Older Patients?

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Abstract

Objective.

The aim of this study was to identify the relationship between general practitioner (GP) gender and prescribing practice of chronic pain drugs in older adults.

Design.

Cross-sectional observational study.

Setting.

GPs in private practice throughout France.

Subjects.

Two hundred and sixty GPs (80.8% male and 19.2% female) enrolled 1,379 (28.4% male and 71.6% female) noninstitutionalized patients over 65 years of age, suffering from chronic pain.

Methods.

A comparison of prescribing habits between male and female GPs was performed on baseline data with univariate analyses followed by multivariate analyses after taking several confounding factors into account.

Results.

No significant differences were found when comparing male and female GPs' prescriptions of World Health Organization step 1, step 2, and step 3 analgesics. Male GPs were more likely than female GPs to prescribe antineuropathic pain drugs (11.3% of patients with male GPs versus 4.8% of patients with female GPs,P= 0.004) and less likely to prescribe symptomatic slow-acting drugs for osteoarthritis (SySADOA) (10.2% of male GPs' patients versus 18.8% of female GPs' patients,P= 0.0003). After adjusting for several confounding factors, male GPs were still more likely to prescribe antineuropathic pain drugs (OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.15–5.14,P= 0.02) and less likely to prescribe symptomatic slow-acting drugs (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.42–0.97,P= 0.03).

Conclusion.

Male and female GPs prescribe analgesics in a similar manner. However, male GPs prescribe more antineuropathic pain drugs, but fewer SySADOA.

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