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How female and male physicians’ communication is perceived differently

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How female and male physicians’ communication is perceived differently


Objective: This paper is based on a 2017 Baltimore International Conference on Communication in Healthcare (ICCH) plenary presentation by the first author and addresses how female and male physicians' communication is perceived and evaluated differently. Female physicians use patientcentered communication which is the interaction style clearly preferred by patients. Logically, patients should be much more satisfied with female than male physicians. However, research shows that this is not the case. Methods: This article provides an overview on how female and male physician communication is evaluated and perceived differently by patients and discusses whether and how gender stereotypes can explain these differences in perception and evaluation. Results: Male physicians obtain good patient outcomes when verbally expressing patient-centeredness while female physicians have patients who report better outcomes when they adapt their nonverbal communication to the different needs of their patients. Conclusion: The analysis reveals that existing empirical findings cannot simply be explained by the adherence or not to gender stereotypes. Female physicians do not always get credit for showing gender role congruent behavior. All in all, female and male physicians do not obtain credit for the same behaviors. Practice Implications: Physician communication training might put different accents for female and male physicians.


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