July 24, 2024

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DDW24: Study Suggests Female GI Physicians Are Better Meeting the Care Needs of their Patients

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DDW24: Study Suggests Female GI Physicians Are Better Meeting the Care Needs of their Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Laura Targownik, MDLead author and Clinician-Investigator Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto Departmental Division Director, Gastroenterology and Hepatology University of TorontoLaura Targownik, MDLead author and Clinician-Investigator Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto Departmental Division Director, Gastroenterology and Hepatology University of Toronto

Dr. Targownik

Laura Targownik, MD
Lead author and Clinician-Investigator
Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto
Departmental Division Director, Gastroenterology and Hepatology
University of Toronto

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Was there a difference in the types of patients or need for surgery seen by the female/male physicians?

Response: The background for this study is that there is an emerging body of literature that having a female physician leads to better patient outcomes in many health care settings, especially amongst patients undergoing surgery or being admitted to hospital.  However, this has not previously been evaluated in gastroenterology.  Female and male gastroenterologists may have different styles of practice on average, and this potentially could lead to differences in how patients engage with the health care system following an initial assessment.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response:  We found that in the 2 years following an initial GI consult, that there were significant reductions in the rate of inpatient hospitalizations for GI indications, fewer emergency room visits, and fewer visits to primary care physicians for people who say female gastroenterologists compared to those who were initially seen and assessed by male gastroenterologists.  These reductions were also seen most prominently for female patients seen by female gastroenterologists. The magnitude of these reductions were 8% for primary care visits, 12% for ER visits, and 20% for inpatient hospitalizations.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our study suggests that there is a sustained reduction in subsequent health care utilization seen among people of all genders when they are seen by a female gastroenterologist, and may suggest that female GIs are better meeting the care needs of their patients, making them less likely to require care in other settings.  However, the underlying explanations for why we are seeing this effect are yet to be determined 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: We want to better understand first if this association is truly causal, or is perhaps explained by other confounding factors. However, these effects remain significant even after adjusting for multiple confounding factors.  We hope to learn what are the differences between how men and women gastroenterologists practice that might be responsible for these effects, especially if these beneficial elements of practice that women gastroenterologists may do better can be shared among both male and female GIs. 

Disclosures: This study was supported by the IMAGINE Consortium, and there was no funding from any commercial entity

Citation: Abstract presented during Digestive Disease Week 2024  Abstract Sa1002
The impact of physician gender on health care utilization among men and women following initial GI consultation
May 18, 2024

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Last Updated on May 20, 2024 by Marie Benz MD FAAD


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