Objective: To determine whether the gender of women's regular physicians, controlling for physician specialty, is associated with women's receiving key preventive services within recommended intervals. Design: Cross-sectional, nationally representative women's health telephone survey conducted by Louis Harris and Associates in February and March 1993 for The Commonwealth Fund. Participants: A total of 2525 women in the continental United States, ≤ 18 years old, including oversamples of African-American and Hispanic women. Main Outcome Measures: Receipt of each of five preventive services (blood pressure reading, Pap smear, cholesterol test, clinical breast examination, and mammogram) within specific periods. Results: Physician gender makes a significant difference for two specialty areas and for three preventive services. Patients of women family or general practitioners are more likely than the patients of men to have received a Pap smear or a blood cholesterol test within the last 3 years, and the patients of women internists are more likely to have received a Pap test. Physician gender is associated with a higher likelihood of mammography, but this finding was limited to patients ages 40-49 of women family or general practitioners. Physician gender does not affect receipt of blood pressure screening or breast examination. Conclusions: Analyses reveal limited evidence that physician gender affects women's receipt of preventive services. Physician specialty appears to be a more powerful predictor of preventive services received. The limited evidence for a physician gender effect, however, is relevant for those women who rely on a family or general practitioner or an internist for regular care.
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