Gender in Medical Encounters: An Analysis of Physician and Patient Communication in a Primary Care Setting

Judith A. Hall, Julie T. Irish, Debra Roter, Carol M. Ehrlich, Lucy H. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The relation of physician and patient gender to verbal and nonverbal communication was examined in 100 routine medical visits. Female physicians conducted longer visits, made more positive statements, made more partnership statements, asked more questions, made more back-channel responses, and smiled and nodded more. Patients made more partnership statements and gave more medical information to female physicians. The combinations of female physician-female patient and female physician-male patient received special attention in planned contrasts. These combinations showed distinctive patterns of physician and patient behavior, especially in nonverbal communication. We discuss the relation of the results to gender differences in nonclinical settings, role strains in medical visits, and current trends in medical education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-392
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1994



  • nonverbal communication
  • patient gender
  • physician gender
  • verbal communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)

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