To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine gender differences in ED experiences among patients with diverse medical conditions. These medium-to-large gender differences are larger and less positive for women compared with gender differences observed in inpatient settings 2 and gender differences identified for measures of “getting needed care” among Medicare beneficiaries.3
ED encounters are brief and sometimes chaotic, with health care providers the patient may have not met before and may not see again. Thus, interpersonal dynamics during ED encounters are fundamentally different than in other care settings, making it critical to be mindful of systematic differences in providers’ communications and decision-making. Training to increase awareness of implicit biases and differences in communication styles can support providers’ ability to communicate effectively with both men and women in ED settings.
Although men and women do not differ in their overall ratings of ED care, there are important and meaningful gender differences in reported experiences, particularly with respect to communication between patients and providers and ED staff responsiveness that should be addressed. Increased focus on women’s experience of care in the ED has the potential to improve ED care for all patients. Gender disparities in health care damage patient-physician relationships, and ultimately patient outcomes. Increased health equity is essential to high-value patient-centered care.