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June 3, 2024 17 mins

A recent study found that US patients of all genders were more likely to survive and not be re-hospitalized when being treated by women doctors. We examine this study, what it demonstrates (and doesn't), and potential suggestions.

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Speaker 1 (00:05):
Hey, this is Anny and Samantha and welcome to stuff.
One never told you a production of iHeartRadio, and today
we're talking about kind of a current ish. I guess
we're a little behind. Study that made a lot of
waves and it's involved around women in health. So see

(00:28):
our past episodes we've done around that. We've done several
things about women as patients as workers in the health industry,
so definitely go seek those out. But yes, you've probably heard. Recently,
a new study out of Harvard made a lot of
waves when it found that patients of all genders a
better health outcomes when treated by women doctors. These patients

(00:53):
were more likely to survive and less likely to be rehospitalized.
The study built on paths studies that found that women
doctors are more likely to invest and suggest in preventive
care and counseling, and more likely when it came to
uterus having patients to request for things like mammograms and
pap smears. There was a similar study in Canada that

(01:14):
was also pretty recent that produced similar results, so this
is not really a new thing to specify, though the
study was specifically focused on elderly hospitalized patients. From Medical
News today Sugawa, which is one of the head The
heads of the study and his colleagues examined data from

(01:36):
Medicare claims made between twenty sixteen to twenty nineteen. The
data included more than four hundred and fifty eight thousand,
one hundred female patients and more than three hundred and
eighteen thousand, eight hundred male patients. Roughly thirty one percent
of both the male and female patient groups were treated
by a female doctor. The researchers reported that the mortality
rate for the female patients when they were treated by

(01:58):
a female doctor was eight point one five percent compared
with eight point three eight percent when treated by a
male physician. The researchers regardless as clinically significant difference. Among males,
the mortality rate was ten point fifteen percent when treated
by females compared with ten point twenty three percent for males.

(02:19):
So the studies lead author has expressed he expects backlash
from this, but maintains that the methodology was analyzed multiple times,
and some have criticized the study in terms of the
fact that you're usually getting treated by a team when
you're in the hospital. However, most still admitted were failing

(02:41):
women and minority patients and there is something going on here.
And so I know we've talked about this, but Samantha
and I have had some recent experiences in our family
and our group around health scares. And I will say
my mom she ou she was hospitalized recently, and when

(03:02):
she told me the story, it was like it was
so infuriating because it was like I was listening to
an example from this because she was like, nobody was
really listening to me. And then they put me somewhere
and didn't tell me anything, and nobody really knew why
I was there and they couldn't tell me why, and
they were mostly men that were just like, what are
you doing here? And She's like, great question, I would

(03:24):
love to know that.

Speaker 2 (03:27):
Yeah, yeah, I don't know what I will say for
the newer stuff I found fascinating, and I don't know
what this is going to do and how things are
going to switch up. I think it's going to be
a key in like your nurses, because a chunk, I
don't think. Except for my brother who was admitted to

(03:49):
a hospital that was specialized in heart failure and surgeries
and such as that, my mom and my dad who
were both hospitalized for an incident. It's been a while,
never really saw a doctor. The doctors were all teledoctors,
and it was all the nurse who had to relay
what was going on and do everything. Everything was literally

(04:10):
they brought in a monitor to do like a zoom
call essentially of course like everything's fine. But I found
that fascinating. And each one of them, except for I
will say, okay, there was one doctor that I did
not see, who apparently was a woman that was caring
for my dad. And the way she responded was so quick,
like she actually set up things as where my mom

(04:33):
was kind of who was only seen by men, was
kind of like, eh, we'll try some things. It was
kind of that kind of conversation, which I'm glad they tested.
They kept her a little longer than my father because
of the types of tests. They actually had similar incidents
of why they went into the hospital. It was pretty
interesting in that result, but I was because it was

(04:53):
at the same hospital, so they went to the same hospital.
They had two different interactions with many a doctors and
again this is also a small town, so they have
to be like driven further away. And then the colocal
hospital is still like small in comparison to like, if
there was actually something big, they would have been if
you're either driven to or like flown to a metro

(05:15):
area to get to that, because it was that type
of hospital. So my experiences I think are a little
different anyway. But I did note that when I was
talking to my parents about their experiences when it came
to the woman doctor, she they genuinely trusted everything she said.
I don't know what made the difference as where they
felt like when the other doctor came in, everything was
like a hit and miss type of thing, like throw

(05:35):
against the wall and see what happens. So again, though
it wasn't exactly the same, but there was similar scenarios,
So I thought I did find that interesting.

Speaker 1 (05:44):
Yeah, and there are a couple of reasons that the
study kind of posits for why that why that might be.
And you know, I would say anecdotally to most of
my experience has been with male doctors, and it's not
that they were bad, but a lot of times I
was just uncomfortable because they have like trauma and like

(06:06):
if it requires you to, i don't know, take off
your clothes or something like, I just would have I
would feel very uncomfortable, and you know that again that's
a very specific case. But because we know that a
lot more women than men do experience things like that,
that I can see that being an issue as well.
But yeah, going back to the study, the studies findings

(06:28):
were pretty striking. It found that in the US quote
that approximately thirty two thousand fear patients would die if
male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians
every year. They concluded that they couldn't pinpoint the exact
reason for this, but there are a few theories, and
you know, I want to be clear these are theories,

(06:48):
but women in general being better at listeners, communicators, more
empathetic another's women doctors tend to spend more time with
their patients. A lot of women practicing are younger than
men practicing, and this is something we've talked about in
a previous episode, but burnout is a huge problem for

(07:10):
women in the medical industry, which is a part of
why women are typically younger. But it means that the
younger folks might be like more up to date on
recent guidelines. If we're talking about elderly patients, I do
wonder if there's something to do with the jobs men
typically pursue versus what women typically pursue. This is just

(07:31):
a thought of mine. I don't have anything to back
it up, but I did when I was reading it,
I was like, I wonder if you're specifically focusing on
elderly patients. I don't know. Another thing we've talked about,
like shifting to the patient's side, is this long history
of women's pain being ignored. There have been multiple studies

(07:56):
that have shown that that can lead to death are
just like way worse outcomes ten years trying to get
a diagnosis longer than that, like being in pain that
whole time. One of the quotes from the study was
there's limited training in women's health issues, and they also
pointed out that medical trials still focused on men. Still.

Speaker 2 (08:31):
I find it interesting too when it comes to like
heart disease. It took so long for them to figure
out that women's symptoms were different from men and not
associating heart attacks with women in general. So the fact
that that heart attacks became one of the leading causes
of death for women and no one recognized that. Everybody
was like, oh, that's weird until like literally what eighties, nineties,

(08:53):
I don't think until nineties, and then in like nineties
two thousands they had to have a campaign because people
did not realize this or the doctors told them so little. Again,
when my mom when she was this was like fifteen
years ago, ten fifteen years ago, when she went in
for her major heart surgery, like she almost died. She
had had symptoms for a week that doctor's men were

(09:14):
telling her, eh, it could be stressed, and she was like,
I don't know, it's weird because it's on my chin
and my jaw and my like this jawline is really hurting.
I think my neck's really hearty. There's something weird. And
then finally someone would be like, oh my god, you're
about to have a heart attack. Oh my god, your
main artery is caloged ninety nine percent. You're about to die.
Like essentially, it took them that long when she went

(09:37):
to the doctor. I'm very proud of her because she
persisted like, no, this is not right, this is not right,
this is not normal, for at least three three doctor's appointments,
if not four, to finally be like, we need to
get you in surgery right now. You're gonna die.

Speaker 1 (09:52):
And that unfortunately, so many people report that experience. Right,
my mom when her recent health issue, she was telling
me her your symptoms, and I was like, hey, just
how you know, for a long time the symptoms of
a heart attack have just been presented in this way,
which is how men see it, but women can have
different symptoms, and some of the things you're telling me

(10:16):
are those symptoms. So I just want you to know
that maybe you should bring that up. But so many
women have reported of kind of your being emotional, you
can't handle pain, or like.

Speaker 2 (10:35):
Something that larious, because we know that's the opposite is true.
Like statistically, by all the points, women handle pain much
better than men.

Speaker 1 (10:45):
Yes, I also think it's really interesting and we should
come back, and I we should come back and look
into this. But in my experience, the discussion around a
heart attack was it was because men ate more or
meat and they like ate like heavier things, and women

(11:05):
of course aren't eating their salads or what half you
in this very gender stereotype, so they aren't going to
have one. But it was almost like I remember when
my dad had heart troubles. It was the whole conversation
around it was, well, yeah, he's eating the steak.

Speaker 2 (11:22):
And for getting genetics exists.

Speaker 1 (11:27):
Right, but it did have that very like obviously men
are eating this this and women aren't sticking to the leaves,
thank goodness. Yeah, which is it messed up in many
many ways. I would like to come back and look
into that, because that's just what I remember from being

(11:48):
a kid. My dad had his heart problems, was it
just felt like, well, he heap steak like my mom.
Here's a quote from NBC News. The new research is
part of a growing field of study examining why women
and minorities tend to receive worse medical care than men

(12:08):
and white patients. For example, women and minority patients are
up to thirty percent more likely to be misdiagnosed than
white men. Our pain and our symptoms are often dismissed,
said doctor Meghan Ranny, dean of the Yale School of
Public Health. It may be that women physicians are more
aware of that and are more empathetic. And going back

(12:28):
to that heart attack thing we're just talking about, another
study found that women having heart attacks were more likely
to survive when being treated by a doctor who is
a woman. Women, as I was kind of mentioning earlier,
might feel more comfortable being open with another woman about
things like my cousin is a nurse and she used

(12:50):
to joke, like, we know half the stuff you're saying
is a lie when you come in when we ask you.
So I can see, I can see it being more
comfortable to be, you know, upfront about certain things with
a woman as a woman. The study did come out

(13:11):
with a few recommendations minimizing the gender pay gap and
disparities in the industry. Yep. In general, only a third
of practicing doctors are women, and the gap is worse,
far worse in certain specialties I believe in one of
them was like one percent women. Addressing gendered gaps in care,

(13:34):
both in practice and regarding patients gender, The study authors
do caution against switching doctors just based on racar gender
if you have one you're comfortable with. The study authors
were more interested in looking into why this difference exist
in the first place, because if regardless of gender, folks

(13:55):
are getting the same training, then the outcomes should be
close sared right, right. That was kind of their question,
like that something is not adding up here. But also
they pretty much ended with like men do better. They
kind of like maybe they were basically saying like, ask

(14:19):
yourself some questions right about why this might be and
maybe the answer is out of your control or I
don't know, but they were hey men, just maybe.

Speaker 2 (14:32):
You know, maybe ask A big thing in this is
because internships happened clinical and practices, and that's why you
learn a lot of attitudes. Yeah that, And I say,
this is a person who went through it through a
whole practicum when I became a social worker and was
told don't do this, don't do this. They gave you,
they taught you biases. So if these biases exist, if
it started with men to begin with, then those men

(14:53):
are training other men and training other people and teaching
this that way that I think influences a lot. And
I think that's a bigger conversation, and like, okay, who
is speaking to whom? Who is mentoring whom? Because that's
a big part of their studies as well. Sure they
do all that, but essentially when you go in and
doing it hands on, it's a different take almost and

(15:14):
you are learning under someone else. And I feel like
that is probably where we're seeing the big, big differences
and who's doing saying what and taking what type of attitude.

Speaker 1 (15:24):
I think you're right. I think the teaching is a
huge part of it. Friend Marissa of the show is
a nurse and she does a lot of teaching and
I'll hear her talk about it, and she has great
students of all genders. She has bad students of all genders.
But I feel like, but because she's the teacher, she's

(15:44):
more aware of those right kind of things, just because
that's who she is and what she knows. So I
do think that's that's really important. And you know, we
all have biases we might not recognize, and I think
it is easier to be here's a guy that looks
like me, I'll mentor him, I'll take him on rye

(16:04):
or whatever. But yeah, maybe ask some questions about that.

Speaker 2 (16:09):
HM.

Speaker 1 (16:11):
Well, if anyone have any thoughts about this, or if
you're in the medical field or not, we have gotten
a lot of messages about people's struggles to be believed
when it comes to getting a diagnosis, so that is
a huge problem. If you have any thoughts about that
as well, please let us know. You can email U
at Stuff Media, mom Stuff at iHeartMedia dot com. You

(16:33):
can find us on Twitter at mom Stuff Podcast, or
on Instagram. And TikTok at stuff One Never Told You.
We're on YouTube, we have a te public store, and
we have a book you can get where you get
your books. Thanks as always too, our super producer Christina,
our executive producer My and your contributor Joey. Thank you
and thanks to you for listening Stuff I Never Told You,
his production of iHeartRadio. For more podcast from My Heart Radio,
you can check out the heart Radio Apple podcast wherever

(16:54):
you listen to your favorite shows.

Speaker 2 (17:01):
A lovely move

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Samantha McVey

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