COPD is a frequent severe illness that increasingly affects females. Gender inequalities have been reported in COPD care.
To analyze decision-making in primary care for men and women with identical COPD as a function of the gender of the family physician (FP).
Cross-sectional, multicenter study in 457 Andalusian FPs, using a self-administered vignette-based questionnaire on COPD featuring a male or female patient, with four variables on clinical reasoning: “tobacco as most important risk factor (RF)”, “ordering of spirometry”, “COPD as most likely diagnosis”, and “referral”. Multilevel logistic regression analysis.
Response rate was 67.4% (308/457). In analysis of the four FP gender-patient gender dyads, tobacco was more frequently considered as priority RF for the man than for the woman in the vignette by female (95.6%vs.67.1%) and male (79.8%vs.62.5%) FPs. COPD was more frequently the most likely diagnosis for the man versus woman by female (84.4%vs.49.9%) and male (78.5%vs.57.8%) FPs. Male FPs more frequently ordered spirometry for the man versus woman (68.1%vs.46.8%). There were no differences in referral between male and female patients. Male FPs were more likely than female FPs to consider tobacco as priority RF for the man (p=002). Female FPs were more likely than male FPs to refer the man (22.5%vs.8%).
There may be gender inequalities in primary care for COPD in our setting. Diagnostic and therapeutic efforts appear lower in female patients. Male and female FPs only differed in care of the male patient, indicating FP gender-patient gender interaction.