Monday, January 1, 2018

Physician Bias: Sexual Dysfunction, Obesity (Research, Video 3:12)

More and more research continues to show that patients are too often diagnosed through biases of their physiciansOne example that involves older adults vs. younger adults focuses on sexual dysfunction. This age bias includes diagnosis, causation, proposed treatment and perceived prognosis.

An on-line survey was given consisting of one of two, randomly administered, case vignettes, which differed only by the age of the patient (28 or 78). In both cases, the patient was described as suffering from occasional erectile dysfunction with a clear psychosocial indication. A total of 236 physicians responded to the survey. Overall, 110 physicians received an "old" vignette and 126 physicians received a "young" vignette.

Biases were reflected in these results:

1)   The "older" vignette was more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, whereas the "younger" vignette was more likely to be diagnosed with performance anxiety.

2)   The "older" vignette's dysfunction was more likely to be attributed to hormonal changes, health problems and decreased sexual desire.

3)   Physicians were more likely to recommend testosterone replacement therapy and inhibitors, as well as a referral to urology to the "older" vignette.

4)   In contrast, the "younger" vignette was more often referred to a sexologist and received a more positive prognosis than the older patient.

Another researched-based bias that many people experience in general in society, including the healthcare professions is bias against people who are obese. One-third of American adults are considered obese, In this video, Sheila Gray goes to medical school to see how future doctors are learning to keep bias out of the exam room.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
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