Pick a doctor, any doctor

Some countries are worried that so many of their doctors are coming to work in the UK. Now Adrian Furnham and colleagues have highlighted another concern regarding the NHS’ increasing dependence on foreign doctors. They report that white British people have a strong preference to be treated by a doctor trained here in the UK.

Presented with a list of eight general practitioners, including their names, age and place of training, 395 white British men and women showed a strong preference for doctors trained in the UK rather than in Asia. Presented with a list of consultants, this preference remained, but to a lesser extent, perhaps because patients realise they have less choice when it comes to consultants.

In contrast to early research in this area, men showed a stronger preference than women to be seen by a doctor of the same sex, perhaps reflecting the fact so many more doctors are female now. The participants didn’t show any preference for older versus younger doctors if they were trained in the UK, but if they were trained in Asia, they showed a preference for an older doctor.

“It is important to establish the extent and nature of any adverse effects resulting from a patient being unable to see a doctor of his or her choice”, the researchers concluded.

Furnham, A., Petrides, K.V. & Temple, J. (2006). Patient preferences for medical doctors. British Journal of Health Psychology, 11, 439-449.

Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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