According to a new study, patients in hospitals who received treatment from female doctors were more likely to obtain better health results.

The improvement included a longer lifespan and a reduced probability of returning to the hospital in the subsequent weeks. The study was carried out by specialists from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. It involved 1.5 million patients registered on Medicare aged 65 or older.

Female doctor
“We found that when patients are hospitalized, when they receive care from a female physician, they’re more likely to survive, and they’re less likely to come back, than when their doctor is a man,” stated lead author Dr. Ashish Jha. Image credit:

A study against gender inequality

The participants of the study were followed for four years, and they were reviewed to find a link between the sex of their physician and the 30-day mortality and readmission rates.

Results show that the 30-day mortality rate was 11.07 percent for patients treated by female physicians, while the rate stood at 11.49 percent for male doctors. The rates were similar for readmission events, where the patient had to go back to the medical facility for further treatment.

In comparison, if male doctors could perform as well as female doctors, over 30,000 lives would be saved each year, which would make a difference when considering statistics.

There was no information as to what female doctors do that allow them to be better physicians.

Dr. Ashish Jha suggests that they might be more likely to follow hospital guidelines and take more seriously the symptoms that they see on patients. She also proposed the theory shared by other fields of professional industry that men are more likely to take risks and are less effective in communicating with their patients to have them follow treatment.

“Female physicians now account for approximately one-third of the US physician workforce and comprise half of all US medical school graduates. Despite evidence suggesting that female physicians may provide higher-quality care, some have argued that career interruptions for childbearing, higher rates of part-time employment, and greater tradeoffs between home and work responsibilities may compromise the quality of care provided by female physicians and justify higher salaries among male physicians,” reads the study published in the JAMA Network.

The study weighs on other research efforts proving that there is a gender gap pay among doctors, where the average pay gap between men and women physicians is about $51,315 a year, and it appears to be worsening.

Other studies suggest that female doctors are burdened with more responsibilities at home when compared to male doctors. This has also been the base of the proposal that female doctors, in fact, provide worse medical care than males, but the latest study led by Dr. Jha seems to disprove the claim.

Researchers proposed several contributing factors, such as the possibility of female patients treating healthier patients by chance, but to deal with this, the study was restricted to hospitalized patients who were randomly assigned to hospitalists within the same hospital based on the need of the patient and the physician’s work schedule.

Source: JAMA Network