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Sex and Familiarity of Colonoscopists: Patient Preferences
31 December 2000 (online)
Background and Study Aims: The gender preference of patients for doctors has been noted in many areas of medicine, but has never been studied in those undergoing the potentially embarassing procedures of colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. We were interested in whether patients did express a preference for either the sex of a doctor, or a doctor whom they had previously met, so that we might in future consider offering a choice of endoscopist.
Patients and Methods: A total of 101 patients attending for colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy were prospectively asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire enquiring about gender preference and preference for an endoscopist with whom they were familiar. The questionnaire also asked about the patient's age and whether patients felt sufficiently strongly about their choice that they would be prepared to wait longer for the procedure if necessary.
Results: The response rate for completion of the questionnaire was 100% (65 female patients and 34 male patients, with two patients not disclosing their sex). Among the female patients, 48 % preferred a female colonoscopist, whereas no male patients preferred a male colonoscopist (χ2 = 26.8, df = 2; P < 0.0001). Women also felt more strongly about seeing a familiar colonoscopist, with 56 % of women and 35 % of men preferring the same doctor they had seen in the outpatient department to perform the test (χ2 = 21.2, df = 2, P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: By offering the choice of a female endoscopist to female patients, and a doctor that the patient has already met in the outpatient department to perform the procedure, the stress of lower gastrointestinal endoscopy might be minimized. This might reduce the proportion of patients failing to attend for booked procedures and thereby increase both the detection of serious pathology and the efficiency of the endoscopy unit.
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Helen Fidler, B.Sc., M.D., M.R.C.P.
Clinical Investigation Unit University Hospital Lewisham
Lewisham High Street London SE13 6LH, UK
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