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 16 January 2018

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News

Gender preference as barrier to colon cancer screening

A study in this month's Gastrointestinal Endoscopy finds that women patients often prefer a female endoscopist, a preference strong enough to delay the procedure, incur personal expense or even cause an absolute barrier to endoscopy in 5% of women.

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The preference of women patients for women physicians has been shown in many specialties.

Women patients awaiting a lower endoscopy have been shown to have a preference for women endoscopists.

The reasons for this preference and the strength of this preference have not been studied in the primary care setting.

Dr Grace Elta and colleagues from Michigan gave a questionnaire to female patients who were waiting for primary care appointments at 4 offices.

Patients reported on several factors including sociodemographic characteristics, and experiences with colorectal cancer.

The team included other questions regarding barriers to colorectal cancer screening, and gender preference of their physician.

The patients also reported on the significance, and reasons for this preference.

The researchers reported that a total of 202 women patients aged 40 to 70 years completed the questionnaire.

87% of patients preferring a woman endoscopist would be willing to wait more than 30 days
Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Of the patients that responded, the team found that 43% preferred a woman endoscopist.

Furthermore, 87% of patients preferring a woman endoscopist would be willing to wait more than 30 days, and 14% would be willing to pay more for this.

The team noted that the most common reason for this gender preference was embarrassment.

Using univariate analysis, the team revealed that gender of the primary care physician, and younger patient age were predictors of preference for a woman endoscopist.

The team also observed that current employment, and no previous history of colonoscopy were predictors of preference for a woman endoscopist.

Using multivariate analysis, only female gender of the primary care physician and employment were positive predictors for a woman endoscopist preference.

The researchers noted that 5% stated that they would not undergo a colonoscopy unless guaranteed a woman endoscopist.

The sole independent factor associated with adherence to screening was primary care physician recommendation.

Dr Elta's team concludes, “Women patients frequently prefer a woman endoscopist, and this preference is reported as being strong enough to delay the procedure and to incur personal expense.”

“It is an absolute barrier to endoscopy according to 5% in this subset of women surveyed.”

“Interventions must be made in the primary care setting to address this issue and to increase the participation of women patients in colorectal cancer screening.”

Gastrointest Endoscopy 2005: 62(2): 219-33
01 August 2005

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