Resident Attitudes Toward Performing Pelvic Examinations in the Emergency Department

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Emergency Medicine

Journal Title

Women's health reports (New Rochelle, N.Y.)


Mounting evidence suggests that emergency physicians tend to avoid patients with gynecologic chief complaints, and that avoidance may be higher for male physicians compared to females. One underlying reason could be discomfort with performing pelvic examinations. The goal of this study was to assess whether male residents report greater discomfort with pelvic examinations than females. We performed a cross-sectional, Institutional Review Board-approved survey of residents at 6 academic emergency medicine programs. Of 100 residents who completed the survey, 63 self-identified as male, 36 female, and one selected "prefer not to say" and was excluded. Responses were compared between male and females using chi-square tests. In secondary analysis, -tests were used to compare preferences for various chief complaints. Self-reported comfort with pelvic examinations did not differ significantly between males and females ( = 0.4249). Barriers for male respondents in performing pelvic examinations included lack of training, general dislike, and concern the patient would prefer female providers. Male residents had a statistically significant higher aversion ranking towards patients with vaginal bleeding than female residents (mean difference = 0.48, confidence interval = 0.11-0.87). Aversion ranking was the same between males and females on other chief complaints. There is a gender disparity among male and female residents in attitudes towards patients with vaginal bleeding. However, the results from this study do not demonstrate a significant difference in self-reported comfort amongst male and female residents in performing pelvic examinations. This disparity may be driven by other barriers, including self-reported lack of training and concern about patients' physician gender preferences.

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