Background: Patient evaluation of satisfaction with their physician has been utilized for several years and is now being included as a parameter utilized to calculate reimbursement. Despite the routine use of these evaluations by most hospitals and agencies, little research has been done to evaluate the metrics of patient evaluations. We sought to assess whether physician gender has any effect on patient scores when patients evaluate their satisfaction with hospitalist performance. 

Methods: This prospective observational study was conducted at a suburban voluntary hospital that has 318 inpatient beds. All patients admitted to the telemetry floor were eligible. Patients who were unable or refused to answer the questionnaire were excluded The hospitalists were evaluated anonymously by their patients over a 4- month period on a questionnaire designed to assess patient satisfaction. The questionnaire was administered by a team of trained research assistants and asked the patient to identify their physician by name as well as 5 additional questions designed to assess: physician communication, concern, introduction to the patient, answering patient questions and whether the patient would recommend the physician.  Patient satisfaction was rated on 3 point scale.

Results: During the 3-month period of the study 158 patients evaluated 16 hospitalists yielding an average of 9.9 evaluations per hospitalist. The patient score for each question was compared using the Mann-Whitney Test between male and female physicians to determine if there were any significant differences across the variable of hospitalist gender. The questions related to communication, answering patient questions, concern and the patient likelihood of recommending the hospitalist did not show any significant differences. The variable for physician introduction to the patient was scored significantly higher for female vs male physicians (2.85 vs. 2.6; p=.038). 

Conclusions: Hospitalist gender did show an effect on the patient satisfaction score that assessed physician introduction to the patient with female hospitalists scoring higher than male hospitalists. There was no effect of gender on the other scores including overall score an the patient likelihood of recommending the physician.