Do women make better doctors than men? Yes, at least according to new research out of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The results of the study, which were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, narrowly support the idea that women make better medicial practitioners than men.
Researchers looked at 30-day death and hospital-readmission rates among 1.5 million elderly Medicare patients hospitalized between 2011 and 2014. During that period, patients who were treated by female physicians were found to have slightly lower mortality rates (11.07%, as compared to 11.49%) and lower readmission rates (15.02%, compared to 15.57%) than those treated by their male counterparts.
According to the authors, these findings suggest that the differences in practice patterns between male and female physicians may have important clinical implications for patient outcomes.
“The motivation for this was really straightforward,” Dr. Ashish Jha, professor of health policy and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told CBS News. “Do differences in patterns of practice, we wondered, make a difference in outcomes for patients? We wanted to see if it really mattered for patients or not.”
Female physicians now account for approximately one-third of the U.S. physician workforce, while women comprise half of all U.S. medical school graduates.
“Patients who received care from a female physician were less likely to die or come back to the hospital,” said Jha.
Still, the exact cause of the study's results remain unclear. “Everyone was interested in finding out better why these differences exist, but we don’t know why yet,” he said.