Maternity care and maternal serum screening. Do male and female family physicians care for women differently?
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OBJECTIVE: To examine whether male and female family physicians practise maternity care differently, particularly regarding the maternal serum screening (MSS) program. DESIGN: Mailed survey fielded between October 1994 and March 1995. SETTING: Ontario family practices. PARTICIPANTS: Random sample of 2000 members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada who care for pregnant women. More than 90% of eligible physicians responded. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Attitudes toward, knowledge about, and behaviour toward MSS. RESULTS: Women physicians were more likely than men to practise part time, in groups, and in larger communities. Men physicians were more likely to perform deliveries; women were more likely to do shared care. Despite a shorter work week, on average, female physicians cared for more pregnant women than male physicians did. Among those providing intrapartum care, women performed more deliveries, on average, than men. Women physicians were more likely than men to offer MSS to all pregnant patients. Although average time spent discussing MSS before the test was similar, women physicians had better knowledge of when best to do the test and its true-positive rate. All differences reported were statistically significant (P < or = 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Among family physicians caring for pregnant women, women physicians cared for more pregnant women than men did. Both spent similar time discussing MSS with their patients before offering screening, but more women physicians offered MSS to all their patients and were more knowledgeable about MSS than men physicians.
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