Valérie Martel, a masters candidate in the school’s department of health administration, Régis Blais, a professor in the department, and Roxanne Borges Da Silva, a professor of nursing, recruited 870 Quebec-based physicians—half men, half women—treating people with diabetes. A chronic condition, diabetes can be controlled only via constant vigilance to maintain proper blood sugar levels; that requires periodic visits to the doctor, and good compliance with taking a range of medications. To compare if a doctor’s gender affected patient behavior, the researchers evaluated physicians on three parts of standard diabetes treatment: prescribing periodic eye exams, scheduling frequent physical check-ups and keeping their patients on some mix of three different medications, such as statins to control cholesterol. On all of the metrics, the female doctors beat the males.
“Women had significantly higher scores in terms of compliance with practice guidelines,” said Martel in a statement that accompanied the release of the study. “They were more likely than men to prescribe recommended medications and to plan required examinations.”