Gender-related differences in the organization and provision of services among general practitioners in Europe: a signal to health care planners

W G Boerma, A van den Brink-Muinen
Medical Care 2000, 38 (10): 993-1002

BACKGROUND: The number of women entering general practice is rising in many countries. Thus, gender differences in work situation preferences and practice activities are important for future planning.

OBJECTIVES: This article describes the differences between male and female general practitioners (GPs) in 32 European countries. It examines gender differences in curative and preventive services and relates these to features of the health care system and the practice.

METHODS: The data were collected in 1993 and 1994 in the European Study of Task Profiles of General Practitioners. In 32 countries, 8,183 GPs answered standardized questionnaires written in their own languages on their self-reported involvement in curative and preventive services, as well as how their practice was organized and managed. Because the independent variables in this study were on both the national 1 and individual practice levels, the data were subjected to multilevel analysis.

RESULTS: Regardless of the type of health care system, the female GPs were younger than the male GPs and more often worked part time in groups or partnerships and in cities, although not in deprived areas. They made fewer house calls and did less work outside office hours. Differences between men and women regarding workload diminished considerably after controlling for part-time work. When other characteristics of the person and the practice were taken into account, female GPs proved to be less involved in several curative services, except as the first contact for gynecological problems, but more involved in health education. Some differences were found in only certain types of health care systems.

CONCLUSIONS: The results may have important implications for working arrangements, training, education, and planning of resources for general practice in the future.

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