Nutrition, exercise advice from female doctors listened to more

(Reuters Health) - Women are more likely to heed guidance on nutrition, exercise and weight loss when it comes from doctors who are female, rather than male, a new study suggests.

The research also found that patients, regardless of gender, more readily tuned into advice about nutrition and exercise from female physicians.

Dr. Anne-Cecile Schieber, from the University of Toulouse III in Toulouse, France, led a team that examined how gender influenced the relationship between 585 patients and 27 general-practice doctors in three regions in France.

The researchers hypothesized that patients might be more inclined to trust doctors of the same gender. But the findings indicate that interpersonal skills may play more of a role than gender in promoting physician-patient trust.

“We think it’s more about communications training then it is about hiring practices,” research scientist Julie Schmittdiel told Reuters Health. “It’s not about gender so much as it’s about communication and enhancing communication.”

Schmittdiel has done similar studies for the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. She was not involved with the current analysis.

The new study suggests that some male doctors could learn a thing or two from female physicians, at least when it comes to dispensing advice on nutrition and exercise.

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