Performance quality, gender, and professional role: A study of physicians and nonphysicians in 16 ambulatory care practices

Judith A. Hall, R. Heather Palmer, E. John Orav, J. Lee Hargraves, Elizabeth A. Wright, Thomas A. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The quality of medical care has rarely been evaluated in relation to practi-tioner or patient gender. Moreover, comparisons between physicians and non-physicians typically are confounded by practitioner gender. In this study gender and professional role effects were analyzed separately for 162 male and female staff physicians, 191 male and female residents, and 73 female nonphy-sicians delivering adult and pediatric primary care in 16 ambulatory care prac-tices. Analyses addressed influences of patient and practitioner gender as well as differences between physicians and nonphysicians. Results showed that female staff physicians performed better than male staff physicians for cancer screening in women by breast examination and Pap smears, but that female residents performed worse than male residents for urinary tract infections in children. Patient gender effects occurred for two tasks; for these, superior care was rendered to the gender with higher prevalence for the condition (girls for urinary tract infections, boys for otitis media). The results are considered in the context of the gender-relevance of particular medical tasks or conditions. Com-parisons between physicians and nonphysicians were limited to female practi-tioners. Comparable or superior performance for nonphysicians was found for all tasks but one (cancer screening in women).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-501
Number of pages13
JournalMedical care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Medical audit
  • Professional role
  • Quality of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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