Health

Studies show that male doctors refer patients to male surgeons at a disproportionate rate.

Jennifer Stranges

A study analyzing about 40 million referrals to Ontario surgeons found that male doctors disproportionately refer patients to male surgeons rather than similarly qualified and experienced female surgeons. I did.

Research published in JAMA surgery, It was found that the difference in the amount and type of referrals could not be explained by the patient’s choice and the surgeon’s characteristics such as age and experience. The findings suggest that male doctors have a prejudice that is detrimental to female surgeons, further widening the gender pay gap in medicine.

Researchers at Unity Health Toronto and ICES compared the percentage of referrals by male and female doctors with male and female surgeons during the decade 1997-2016. Approximately 40 million referrals were made to 5,660 surgeons. Male surgeons accounted for 77.5% of all surgeons, 79% of referrals from female doctors, and 87% of referrals from male doctors.

“For the actual 20 years, my male surgeon colleagues were more likely to be referred than I was, and I always felt that referred patients were more likely to need surgery,” says Dr. Nancy Baxter. Senior author of the study and scientist at the Ricacin Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital in Unity Health Toronto. “Our study shows that my observations were not unique, but reflects gender bias that affects the lives and livelihoods of all female surgeons in the state,” non-profit. Dr. Baxter, who is also an assistant scientist at the institute, adds. ICES.

The study found that female doctors were 1.6% more likely to refer patients to female surgeons, and male doctors were 32% more likely to refer patients to male surgeons. The difference was the largest in surgical disciplines, where the proportion of female surgeons was highest, such as gynecology and plastic surgery, and this number did not decrease as more women participated in surgery during the decade of the study.

“It is often assumed that as more women enter and gain experience in medicine, gender inequality in medicine will naturally improve,” said the co-author of the study and general surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital. Dr. Fahimadossa said. Unity Health Toronto. “In contrast, our study shows that inequality cannot be improved without active intervention. The areas of expertise most representative of female surgeons, such as gynecology, show the largest referral disparities. rice field.”

The authors state that the findings indicate the need for a direct focus on eliminating gender stigma in medicine. Dr. Dossa proposes innovative changes to the referral process, including a single-entry referral model scheduled to be seen by the first surgeons available for referrals.

“It’s time to make a difference,” she says. “Our work is directed at mechanisms that directly contribute to gender-based wage inequality in medicine. Focused efforts are now needed to reduce the effects of implicit and explicit biases on referrals to doctors. It has been.”

The study found that female surgeons in Ontario earned 24% less hourly during surgery compared to male surgeons, and that female surgeons performed few major, higher-paying procedures than male surgeons. It is based on the previous work of Dr. Baxter and Dr. Dossa.

Jennifer Stranges is a Senior Communication Advisor at Unity Health Toronto.

Studies show that male doctors refer patients to male surgeons at a disproportionate rate.

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