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in brief: study finds women shamed by doctors more than men

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A pair of studies by the University of California, San Diego, published in the Basic and Applied Social Psychology journal, have found that women are more likely to feel shamed or guilted by their physicians than men are.

Researchers for the study questioned a wide range of patients about their experiences with their doctors, asking them whether they’d ever felt guilt or shame, and how they reacted to those feelings.

Both studies also found that women were much more likely to experience these incidents than men.

In the first group, made up of university students, 26% of women reported being ‘shamed’ by a physician, while only 15% of men in the same group said the same.

The second study, while including a broader range of ages, showed similar results, with only 38% of men reporting feelings of shame or guilt caused by their doctor, in comparison with 53% of women of the same group.

Overall, it was found that the patients were more likely to make changes recommended by their doctor, when they perceived the criticism to be focused on their behavior, rather than them as a person.

While men were more likely to make the positive changes are being shamed, the researchers couldn’t pin point why. They found that women weren’t more likely to focus on being ‘bad’ than men were, however they speculated that women might be treated differently to men, by their physicians.

However, it was noted that women could be just as likely to simply read a situation differently.

Clearly more research is needed on this topic, to determine exactly what the cause of the gender discrepancies is. It would be all too easy just to blame doctors for treating their patients differently based on their gender, particularly when the gender of the doctor can change.

One thought on “in brief: study finds women shamed by doctors more than men

  1. Absolutely. I hate this so much though. Going in to a doctor can already put you in a vulnerable position, let alone hearing some sort of shaming. A year ago I went in for a routine pap smear and was asked how many sexual partners I’d had since my previous. I told her and she said “well I wouldn’t be surprised if you have chlamydia so we better do that test” I was in such a shock that I couldn’t even say anything to her about it. I was absolutely disgusted.

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