CTV: Study shows gender bias in physician referrals

UC expert says findings reveal lingering implicit bias affecting women surgeons

Gender bias persists when it comes to physicians referring patients to surgeons, according to a new Canadian study.

The study found that male surgeons in Ontario made up 77.5% of all surgeons but received 79% of referrals from female physicians and 87% of referrals from male physicians from 1997-2016.

Elizabeth Shaughnessy, MD, PhD, professor and vice chair of patient experience in the University of Cincinnati's Department of Surgery in the College of Medicine, a UC Health breast cancer surgeon and president of the Association of Women Surgeons, said the study shows less obvious forms of gender discrimination continue in medical settings.

"We're seeing it in its more subtle forms which is far more difficult to identify and eradicate, which is disturbing to us because as women surgeons, we certainly suspect that this has been going on for a while and this just helps to confirm certain suspicions," Shaughnessy told CTV News Canada.

Watch the CTV News report.

Featured photo at top of Dr. Shaughnessy and colleagues in surgery. Photo/Colleen Kelley/University of Cincinnati

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