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Independents' Day

Men prefer male GPs

Anna Hodgekiss

Men have a stronger preference for seeing a male GP than women have for seeing a female doctor, new research concludes.

The study by University College London contradicts the common belief that women have a greater wish to see a doctor of their own gender.

Psychologists asked 395 patients what type of doctor they would prefer for an intimate and non-intimate problem.

While each gender had a preference for their own sex, the preference of men for a male GP was far stronger than the female preference. There were no gender preferences at consultant level.

Author Professor Adrian Furnham, professor of psychology, said the increasing feminisation of the GP workforce in recent years was a major factor in the change.

He said: 'Sex ratios have changed. Years ago, the average doctor was more likely to be male, so the men were always catered for. The average GP these days is more likely to be female, which men often feel uncomfortable with.'

Nigel Duncan, spokesman for the Men's Health Forum, was not surprised by the findings.

He said: 'Men usually have to be at death's door before they'll go to the doctor and when they arrive it's a very feminised environment. Having to then bare all to a woman is even worse.'

Dr Fiona Cornish, a GP in Cambridge and treasurer of the Medical Women's Federation, said younger men in particular found it far harder to see a

female GP about sexual health problems.

She said: 'Women are used to baring all because there were very few female doctors in the past and they had to see a man. Young men are a lot more bashful about problems with genitalia while women are resigned to it.'

The study, Patient Preferences for Medical Doctors, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, also found that British Caucasians of both sexes showed a strong preference for UK-trained doctors. Older Asian GPs were preferred to younger ones.

Professor Furnham said: 'This isn't about race, but about patients wanting their GP to be familiar with their nuances and customs in order to get the right treatment. They aren't bothered at the consultant level because they feel lucky just to have an appointment, but they are fussier at GP level.'

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