Gender May Affect CVD Risk Factor Management

Female doctors more likely to urge lifestyle changes; female diabetes patients may be undertreated

THURSDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- In primary care, the sex of the physician or patient has little overall effect on the number of patients who meet cardiovascular disease guideline-specific goals, but there are some gender-dependent stylistic differences in risk factor management, according to a study in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Hava Tabenkin, M.D., of the HaEmek Medical Center in Afula, Israel, and colleagues studied the management styles of 39 male and 16 female primary care physicians who cared for 4,195 patients in 30 practices in southeastern New England.

The researchers found that female physicians were more likely than male physicians to document diet and weight loss counseling for hypertension and obesity (odds ratios, 2.22 and 2.14, respectively), and offer more physical activity counseling for obesity and diabetes (odds ratios, 2.03 and 6.55, respectively). They also found that female diabetes patients were less likely than their male counterparts to receive glucose-lowering medications, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor therapy, and aspirin prophylaxis (odds ratios, 0.49, 0.39, and 0.30, respectively).

"Future research should explore whether the stylistic differences in cardiovascular disease risk factor management found in our study have any long-term impact on clinically relevant outcomes, such as myocardial infarctions, strokes, heart failure, and death in longitudinal studies of primary care practice," the authors conclude.

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