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Healthcare Satisfaction: Men vs. Women

by Rick Blizzard, D.B.A.
Health and Healthcare Editor

In a recent Tuesday Briefing article (see "Gender Comparisons: Patient Satisfaction and Loyalty" in Related Items), I discussed the finding that male patients and female patients do not offer significantly different ratings on overall satisfaction and loyalty with inpatient, outpatient, and emergency department services. However, further analysis indicates that there are gender differences in satisfaction scores for specific services within these areas, providing potential opportunities to tailor services more closely to patients.

Inpatient Services

In the case of inpatient services, when looking at individual patient satisfaction items, there are two significant gender-based differences.

  1. The largest difference occurs in satisfaction with the education and informational materials provided, which is significantly lower among men than women. This might not be a huge concern, but in tailoring printed communications, administrators may want to be aware that studies have indicated that women typically need more text-based information, whereas men favor diagrams with an outline of main points. In any case, materials should be visual and quick to read, and staff members should be readily available to answer questions about them.
  2. Men are also less satisfied than women with the inpatient admitting process. Staff members should be sensitive to the fact that men tend to be more impatient and concerned with the speed of the process. Staff members can help by verbally reassuring patients that the process is nearing completion and explaining the necessity for gathering all pertinent information.

Outpatient Tests and Treatment Services

The second-largest gender variations occur in outpatient test and treatment services.

  1. As with inpatient services, men tend to rate their satisfaction with the pre-admission process slightly lower than women. Again, lack of efficiency may be a contributing factor -- administrators may consider working to eliminate such redundancies as duplications in pre-admission and admission information gathering.
  2. Men also score slightly lower than women in their ratings of outpatient X-ray (radiology) services.

Emergency Department Services

There is less variation between genders on the specific emergency department satisfaction items, but two variations are noteworthy.

  1. Unlike the other services, men have slightly higher overall satisfaction with the emergency department than women do.
  2. Men also tend to be more satisfied than women with the helpfulness and courtesy of emergency department staff.

For some reason, men just seem to be slightly more at home in the emergency department. However, as with outpatient test and treatment, men are less satisfied than women with X-ray services in the emergency department.

Outpatient Surgery Services

Outpatient surgery services exhibit the greatest consistency in gender-based differences across individual items. Eight performance items have scores of .03 points lower for males than for females. Given this pattern of consistent variation, it is fair to assume that the variation is generalized across the service area as a whole and not necessarily attributable to specific operational causes.

Key Points

While there is little variation in overall satisfaction and loyalty scores of male patients and female patients, there is greater variation on some specific operational factors. Some patterns do appear across service areas: men tend to be less satisfied with the admitting process and with interactions with the X-ray department. Staff members in these areas should be sensitive to male patients' different needs and expectations.


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