Home Gesundheit Sind Ärztinnen besser? Hier erfahren Sie, was Sie wissen sollten

Sind Ärztinnen besser? Hier erfahren Sie, was Sie wissen sollten

von NFI Redaktion

On May 1, 2024, Makenna was eager to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist after moving to a new city and presumably contracting a yeast infection. Makenna, who preferred to be identified by her first name only, opted for a male doctor who accepted her insurance, even though she felt uncomfortable visiting a male gynecologist – a common experience for many women.

What followed left her confused and traumatized. Makenna, 28, recounted that during the examination, the doctor put on a pair of gloves, inserted his fingers into her, and then smelled them. He then informed her that she had bacterial vaginosis instead of a yeast infection. She noted there was little to no further dialogue or questions before this happened.

She switched to a female gynecologist and never looked back.

Makenna is not alone. Many women prefer to see female doctors not just for gynecological issues. Studies over the past decades have shown that people – especially women – may fare better when seeing a female doctor.

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed data from 770,000 Medicare patient records from 2016 to 2019. Researchers found that both male and female patients were less likely to die and had lower readmission rates within 30 days of leaving the hospital when cared for by a female physician. Female patients particularly benefited significantly from being treated by a female doctor.

While the exact reasons for this disparity are not clear, it likely has much to do with a lack of understanding of female pain early in medical training and the life experiences that female doctors bring, according to Manijeh Berenji, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of California Irvine.

„Every female doctor was a patient at some point in her life,“ she said. „Sometimes we need more time to process what’s happening and articulate it. I try to take the time to analyze that.“

A study conducted by researchers from the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Tokyo found that approximately 10.15% of men and 8.2% of women died while being treated by a female doctor, compared to 10.23% and 8.4% of patients treated by a male doctor.

Atsushi Miyawaki, MD, PhD, one of the lead authors and Assistant Professor of Health Services Research at the University of Tokyo, also has theories on why these results look the way they do.

„Female doctors can help alleviate embarrassments, discomforts, and sociocultural taboos during sensitive examinations and discussions when examining female patients,“ she said.

However, the authors of the study note that while the data are statistically significant, the differences are very small. Berenji approaches the results with caution and wouldn’t be surprised if many of her male colleagues do the same.

„We see more and more papers of this kind coming out, so this just opens the door wider and tries to dig into the core of the problem because there is clearly a trend here,“ she said.

The results align with a variety of earlier studies on this topic. A 2018 study of over 580,000 heart patients admitted to the emergency room in Florida also found that the mortality rate was lower for both men and women when treated by a female doctor; women treated by male doctors fared the worst. Another study, a year-long analysis of over 1 million surgical patients published last year, concluded that patients treated by female surgeons had a lower risk of adverse outcomes at 90 days and 1 year post-operation.

This could largely be attributed to the contrasting communication styles between male and female doctors. Decades of research have shown that female doctors tend to engage in longer conversations with patients (on average over 2 minutes more personal time) than male doctors.

„It was so strange to see how women responded to me compared to my male colleagues. Even one or two extra minutes really make a difference when trying to limit the time spent looking at the computer screen and making direct eye contact,“ said Berenji. „I think there needs to be a fundamental shift in how we assess female patients, especially when it comes to evaluating pain.“

Given reports from patients who felt their symptoms were dismissed or not taken seriously enough by male doctors, it makes sense that women tend to achieve better health outcomes when seeing a female doctor. For instance, women seeking emergency care in some cases had to wait up to 30% longer It’s easier for men to see a doctor if they have chest pain, and they’re also 25% less likely to receive strong painkillers after an ER visit for severe abdominal pain.

Today, more and more women are becoming doctors, with newer estimates showing that now over half of medical school enrollees are female. The percentage of female physicians has risen from 28% in 2007 to over 37% in 2021, data indicates. However, this number still does not fully reflect the gender demographics of our overall population.

„On a societal level, we must continue our efforts to increase the number of female doctors, which can lead to better health outcomes for women,“ Miyawaki said.

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