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Gender based differences in the bedside consultation; innate behaviours or learned?

A 2020/2021 Summer Studentship research project

Student: Otis Williams
Supervisors: Paul Bridgman, Cardiologist and Isla Evison, Medical student
Sponsor: Canterbury Medical Research Foundation

Introduction

This summer studentship builds on last year’s successful studentship. Whilst conducting a study of broken heart syndrome, we noted that female and male doctors treated their patients differently. Whereas female doctors spent equal time with both female and male patients on the post-acute ward round, male doctors spent less time with male patients. This might not be unexpected as data from other settings has suggested that males include less psychosocial talk in consultations with males. However American data suggests that female heart patients do not do as well when treated by male doctors. How can female patients do worse in the face of longer consultations? We investigate this discordance. In this study we expand on the methodology of last summer to include many more patients in the cohort and to include clinical outcomes.

Aim

As a 2nd year student in 1985 the supervisor was told that his was the first Otago medical class to have more women in it than men. How can it be that 35 years later gender is still an issue?

Gender is always topical. The effect of gender is very powerful but remarkably poorly understood. This study will test for differences between doctors with varying levels of training. It will improve our understanding of where gender differences come from and it might suggest what to do about them.

Method

The student will attend cardiology ward rounds led by a range of trainees and consultants. They will record consultation times. Case note review will be undertaken for clinical details and outcomes.

Student researcher’s component of the study

The focus is always on developing the student. The Cardiology department has hosted a summer student for the last three years. In each of those years the student has been a prize winner at the end of summer presentations. Two peer reviewed publications have resulted. A third manuscript is currently under review at a peer reviewed journal and a fourth is (still) being prepared for submission. This summer will be the second occasion where last year’s student has returned as this year’s co-supervisor.

This year’s student will be attending daily ward rounds. They will be responsible for further protocol and endpoint development, all data acquisition, spread sheet development and completion, statistical analysis and draft manuscript preparation.

Student prerequisites

Current 3rd year medical student.