Health News

How A Doctor Votes Might Affect Patient Care

Photo from Pixabay

Politics extends inside the examination and emergency rooms, as it turns out. A new study from Yale University suggests that the quality of patient care may depend on whether the attending physician is a Democrat or a Republican – at least, on sensitive issues such as firearm safety.

Health care has always been a crux in partisan politics, such as when it comes to abortion, medical marijuana or in the state of Florida, banning doctors from discussing guns with patients. There’s been little research on how politics plays into doctor-patient relationships, a niche that researchers decided to fill, NBC News reports.

Dr. Matthew Goldenberg, a co-author on the study and a psychiatrist at Yale, says,

We don’t leave things at the door.

Yale University scientists looked up voter registration records and found out which party over 20,000 primary care providers were affiliated with. They surveyed over 200 of the doctors on how they would react to various scenarios regarding medical issues that might come up during routine check-ups.

When it came to the topics of depression, alcohol abuse, vehicle safety and the like, political ties didn’t matter so much, the study found. Doctors reacted in the same manner to these issues, regardless of who they voted for.
But Democrats and Republicans had vastly differing reactions when it came to politically-charged subjects such as abortion, marijuana, and guns, the researchers state.

When examining a woman who was not pregnant but had undergone two abortions, Republican physicians were twice as likely as their Democratic peers to veto any further abortions. Republicans were also 35% more likely to emphasize the supposed mental health effects of abortion, according to Eitan Hersh, a co-author on the study and a professor of political science.

Upon examining a man who smokes marijuana recreationally thrice a week, Republican doctors were 64% more likely to discuss the legal risks of cannabis and 47% more likely to recommend that the patient cut back on his use, compared to Democrats.

On guns, Democratic physicians were 66% more likely to tell parents with young children not to keep firearms at home, while Republican doctors preferred to discuss the safe storage of weapons.

Hersh observes that when patients choose a doctor, they might not know who or what they’ll be dealing with ahead of time, adding that important issues such as transgender health or end-of-life care may, in fact, be affected by the attending’s political views.

Goldenberg says, “Both patients and practitioners should be aware that there are these biases.”

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Click to comment
To Top

Hi - We Would Love To Keep In Touch

If you liked this article then please consider joing our mailing list to receive the latest news, updates and opportunities from our team.

We don't want an impostor using your email address so please look for an email from us and click the link to confirm your email address.