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Physicians’ gender bias in the diagnostic assessment of medically unexplained symptoms and its effect on patient–physician relations

Claréus, Benjamin LU and Renström, Emma (2019) In Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 60(4). p.338-347
Abstract
Nonspecific, functional, and somatoform (NFS) syndromes is an umbrella term for various diagnoses with medically unexplained symptoms. These syndromes are more prevalent among women than among men, and associated with negative preconceptions that can impede rehabilitation. In two studies, we quantitatively assess how patients’ gender affects the diagnostic assessment of NFS syndromes, as well as the healthcare experiences of individuals diagnosed with NFS syndromes. In the first study, our vignette‐based experiment showed that Swedish general practitioners (N = 90) were gender biased in their diagnostic assessment of NFS syndromes, such that a female patient with back pain was more likely to be assigned a NFS syndrome compared to an... (More)
Nonspecific, functional, and somatoform (NFS) syndromes is an umbrella term for various diagnoses with medically unexplained symptoms. These syndromes are more prevalent among women than among men, and associated with negative preconceptions that can impede rehabilitation. In two studies, we quantitatively assess how patients’ gender affects the diagnostic assessment of NFS syndromes, as well as the healthcare experiences of individuals diagnosed with NFS syndromes. In the first study, our vignette‐based experiment showed that Swedish general practitioners (N = 90) were gender biased in their diagnostic assessment of NFS syndromes, such that a female patient with back pain was more likely to be assigned a NFS syndrome compared to an otherwise identical male patient. In the second study, a large community sample of Swedish individuals with medically explained (n = 432) and unexplained pain (n = 521) evaluated their treating physician's relational conduct. Even after accounting for a variety of sociodemographic variables and other pain characteristics, women with at least one NFS syndrome percieved their physician's relational conduct as significantly poorer than other women as well as men with and without NFS syndromes. When women's pain is more likely than men's to be assessed as NFS, their rehabilitation could be prolonged as pertient alternative diagnoses and treatments are omittied and their negative healthcare experiences lower their volition to partake and persevere in treatment. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
volume
60
issue
4
pages
338 - 347
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:85066823082
ISSN
1467-9450
DOI
10.1111/sjop.12545
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a112e881-5f5b-4f28-b960-e5425cd07ee7
date added to LUP
2019-06-12 09:54:33
date last changed
2019-07-09 04:47:58
@article{a112e881-5f5b-4f28-b960-e5425cd07ee7,
  abstract     = {Nonspecific, functional, and somatoform (NFS) syndromes is an umbrella term for various diagnoses with medically unexplained symptoms. These syndromes are more prevalent among women than among men, and associated with negative preconceptions that can impede rehabilitation. In two studies, we quantitatively assess how patients’ gender affects the diagnostic assessment of NFS syndromes, as well as the healthcare experiences of individuals diagnosed with NFS syndromes. In the first study, our vignette‐based experiment showed that Swedish general practitioners (N = 90) were gender biased in their diagnostic assessment of NFS syndromes, such that a female patient with back pain was more likely to be assigned a NFS syndrome compared to an otherwise identical male patient. In the second study, a large community sample of Swedish individuals with medically explained (n = 432) and unexplained pain (n = 521) evaluated their treating physician's relational conduct. Even after accounting for a variety of sociodemographic variables and other pain characteristics, women with at least one NFS syndrome percieved their physician's relational conduct as significantly poorer than other women as well as men with and without NFS syndromes. When women's pain is more likely than men's to be assessed as NFS, their rehabilitation could be prolonged as pertient alternative diagnoses and treatments are omittied and their negative healthcare experiences lower their volition to partake and persevere in treatment.},
  author       = {Claréus, Benjamin and Renström, Emma},
  issn         = {1467-9450},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {07},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {338--347},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Scandinavian Journal of Psychology},
  title        = {Physicians’ gender bias in the diagnostic assessment of medically unexplained symptoms and its effect on patient–physician relations},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12545},
  volume       = {60},
  year         = {2019},
}