Study Finds That Women Doctors Are Often Perceived as Nurses by Hospital Patients

A new study authored by researchers at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida, Louisiana State University, and Nova Southeastern University, found that women physicians in the emergency room are often perceived by patients to be nurses.

After surveying a large group of patients in an emergency room setting, researchers found that 42 percent of patients thought women doctors were nurses. Both male and female patients had the same level of perception of the role of women physicians in an emergency room setting.

There were differences by the age of patients. Older patients were significantly less likely to misidentify women doctors as nurses than younger patients. Younger patients were also more likely to recognizes male nurses as nurses. Older patients recognized male nurses as nurses only 65 percent of the time.

The researchers did note that their data showed an improvement from similar research conducted more than a decade ago. The write: “Although a gender bias is still seen to exist against female attending physicians, this bias seems to be lessening in the wake of changing gendered expectations within American culture.” However, the authors add that “this continued bias results in a negative impact on patient care, physician satisfaction scores, and overall patient satisfaction.”

The full study, “The Relationship Between Physician/Nurse Gender and Patients’ Correct Identification of Health Care Professional Roles in the Emergency Department,” was published on the website of the Journal of Women’s Health. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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