The TODAY and SurveyMonkey poll found that 52% of women and 36% of men considered discrimination towards patients to be a serious issue, and 17% of women felt they had been treated differently because of their gender. Only 6% of men said the same.
The perception of bias was most acute for women with chronic health conditions. More than a quarter of them said a health care provider ignored or dismissed their symptoms. Thirty-one percent said they felt like they needed to "prove" their symptoms to a health care provider. And 25% said a health care provider did not take their pain seriously.
A gender gap in perception
Of the 1,786 men and 2,105 women who participated in the Dismissed survey, 84% were satisfied with the quality of care they got when they visit a health care provider. And 87% said they felt their providers took their symptoms seriously. The error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
But the data reveals a few key differences between how women and men feel they’re treated.
Women were more likely than men to report that doctors dismissed their symptoms, that they felt they needed to prove their symptoms, and that their pain wasn't taken seriously.
The findings are even more stark when looking at data surrounding race.
Black women were especially likely to consider gender discrimination to be a "very serious" problem in the TODAY survey: 38% of them said it was, compared to 14% of white women.
Chronic conditions, chronic misunderstandings
The gender difference is more pronounced when it comes to patients diagnosed with a chronic pain or another chronic condition. About 31% of women diagnosed with a chronic condition/pain reported they felt the needed to “prove” their symptoms to a healthcare provider, compared to 19% of men.
And after reporting those symptoms, 26% of diagnosed women felt their doctor ignored or dismissed their symptoms, versus 18% of diagnosed men.
Age was another driving factor, with young women feeling especially dismissed. Among women 18-34 with a chronic health condition, 49% said they felt they needed to prove their symptoms, and 38% said a health care provider ignored or dismissed their symptoms.
Women age 18 to 54 diagnosed with a chronic condition or pain report the highest levels of perceived gender discrimination.
Nearly half of women with chronic conditions under 34 and nearly one of of every three in the under 54 category said their doctor did not diagnose their condition properly, compared to 18% over age 54.
Women under 54 with chronic conditions were also most likely to say they felt forced to accept diagnoses they didn't agree with, and they were most likely to say they felt they needed to seek treatment outside of mainstream medicine.
This TODAY|SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted April 22-26, 2019, among a national sample of 3,891 adults. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over. For full results and methodology, click here.