Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 27, Issue 12, pp 1643–1648 | Cite as

Does Gender Moderate Medical Students’ Assessments of Unprofessional Behavior?

Original Research



Despite widespread acceptance of professionalism as a clinical competency, the role of certain contextual factors in assessing certain behaviors remains unknown.


To examine the potential moderating role of gender in assessing unprofessional behaviors during undergraduate medical training.


Randomized, anonymous, self-administered questionnaire.


Ninety seven (97) third-year students from a southeastern U.S. medical school (participation rate = 95.1 %).


Using a 4-point Likert-type scale, subjects reviewed two subsets of randomly administered, equally weighted hypothetical vignettes depicting potentially unprofessional behaviors that could occur during medical students’ clinical training. Ratings were categorized from 1 –“Not a Problem” to 4 –“A Severe Problem”, based on the perceived degree of unprofessionalism. In each written scenario, trainee gender was systematically varied.


Across all scenario subsets, male and female students’ mean ratings of hypothetical behaviors did not differ significantly. Further, male and female students tended, on average, to rate behaviors similarly regardless of the trainee’s gender.


Study findings suggest that: (1) neither students’ gender nor that of the hypothetical “actor” moderates the assessment of unprofessional behaviors; and (2) male and female students assign roughly the same overall rankings to potentially unprofessional behaviors.


professionalism gender medical education unprofessional behavior 



A version of this paper was presented at the annual meetings of the Southern Group on Education Affairs (SGEA), April 15-17 (2010), Oklahoma City, OK.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11606_2012_2152_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terry D. Stratton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rosemarie L. Conigliaro
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral ScienceUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Office of Medical EducationUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineLexingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineLexingtonUSA

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