Preferences for gender of family physician among Canadian European-descent and South-Asian immigrant women
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Objective. The aim of this study was to investigate expressed preferences for family physician (FP) gender among Canadian European-descent (CED) and Canadian South-Asian (CSA) immigrant women. Method. An ‘on-site’ survey was conducted in community-based institutions in Toronto in order to determine preferences for the gender of FP under various health care scenarios: overall health care; gender-sensitive examinations; emotional problems; general ailments; and life-threatening conditions. Results. Ninety-four women responded to this survey (CED = 50, CSA = 44), response rate 77.3%. For all health care scenarios, CED and CSA women similarly expressed either a preference for a female FP or no preference. More than two-thirds of women preferred a female FP for gynaecological examinations (CED, 72.9%; CSA, 83.7%) or examinations with private body part exposure (CED, 72%; CSA, 81.8%). For ‘emotional problems', half of the women preferred a female FP and the other half had no preference. A similar pattern was observed for ‘overall health care', with some shift to female physician preference among CSA women (60.5%) compared with CED women (53.2%). For the ‘overall health care' scenario, CED and CSA women who preferred a female FP had a higher frequency of seeing female physicians within the last 5 years (CED, P ≤ 0.01; CSA, P ≤ 0.05), and attributed ‘positive' social skills more to female physicians (CED, P ≤ 0.01; CSA, P ≤ 0.01) compared with women with no preference for the gender of the FP. Yet, CED women with a female FP preference were more likely to have a concurrent female FP (P ≤ 0.01), and to rate past experiences with female physicians as high (P ≤ 0.01) and with male physicians as low (P ≤ 0.05) compared with CED women with no preference. In the CSA group, women with a preference for a female FP were more likely to be unemployed (P ≤ 0.01) and have low social support (P ≤ 0.01). Conclusions. Despite similar physician gender preference patterns, factors associated with these preferences show some differences between CED and CSA women.