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Open Access Research article

Gender and the professional career of primary care physicians in Andalusia (Spain)

Ana Delgado1*, Lorena Saletti-Cuesta1, Luis Andrés López-Fernández1, Juan de Dios Luna2 and Inmaculada Mateo-Rodriguez1

Author Affiliations

1 Andalusian School of Public Health, Cuesta del Observatorio 4, 18080 Granada, Spain

2 Department of Biostatistics. Faculty of Medicine. University of Granada. Avda. del Hospicio, s/n 18071 Granada, Spain

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BMC Health Services Research 2011, 11:51  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-51

Published: 28 February 2011

Abstract

Background

Although the proportion of women in medicine is growing, female physicians continue to be disadvantaged in professional activities. The purpose of the study was to determine and compare the professional activities of female and male primary care physicians in Andalusia and to assess the effect of the health center on the performance of these activities.

Methods

Descriptive, cross-sectional, and multicenter study. Setting: Spain. Participants: Population: urban health centers and their physicians. Sample: 88 health centers and 500 physicians. Independent variable: gender. Measurements: Control variables: age, postgraduate family medicine specialty (FMS), patient quota, patients/day, hours/day housework from Monday to Friday, idem weekend, people at home with special care, and family situation. Dependent variables: 24 professional activities in management, teaching, research, and the scientific community. Self-administered questionnaire. Descriptive, bivariate, and multilevel logistic regression analyses.

Results

Response: 73.6%. Female physicians: 50.8%. Age: female physicians, 49.1 ± 4.3 yrs; male physicians, 51.3 ± 4.9 yrs (p < 0.001). Female physicians with FMS: 44.2%, male physicians with FMS: 33.3% (p < 0.001). Female physicians dedicated more hours to housework and more frequently lived alone versus male physicians. There were no differences in healthcare variables. Thirteen of the studied activities were less frequently performed by female physicians, indicating their lesser visibility in the production and diffusion of scientific knowledge. Performance of the majority of professional activities was independent of the health center in which the physician worked.

Conclusions

There are gender inequities in the development of professional activities in urban health centers in Andalusia, even after controlling for family responsibilities, work load, and the effect of the health center, which was important in only a few of the activities under study.