To examine whether Canadian women seeking care from obstetrician-gynaecologists prefer to see female or male physicians or have no strong preference in this regard.
A self-administered questionnaire assessing women's "strong preference" for female or male obstetrician-gynaecologists, or their lack of a strong preference in this area, was completed by 409 women (93.8% response rate) attending two hospital-based obstetrics and gynaecology outpatient clinics in London, Ontario.
Overall, 75% of women stated that they had no strong preference concerning the gender of their obstetrician-gynaecologist; 21% strongly preferred a female obstetrician-gynaecologist; and 4% strongly preferred a male obstetrician-gynaecologist. Women who were single, pregnant, or had a history of abortion, sexual coercion, relationship violence, sexual dysfunction, or sexually transmitted disease were no more likely to prefer to see a female obstetrician-gynaecologist than were women without these characteristics.
A clear majority of women expressed no strong preference for the gender of their obstetrician-gynaecologist, and preference for a female obstetrician-gynaecologist was not associated with a history of sensitive gender-related medical concerns. Nationally representative research is needed to clarify women's preferences in this domain across the regions of Canada and to determine the strength and correlates of any such preferences. Patient care and human rights implications of women's preference for the gender of their obstetrician-gynaecologist will need to be carefully considered as well.