Refusing male medics
Women may have religious or cultural reasons for not wanting men to be involved in their health care. Pashtoon Murtaza Kasi and colleagues consider the implications and suggest some ways forward
Health care is becoming increasingly consumer oriented, as patients become choosier about whom they consult. This can lead to medical students getting less exposure to patients in teaching hospitals1. And this problem is even more pronounced for male medical students on rotation in specialties such as obstetrics and gynaecology, in which the phenomenon of “male refusal”-patients refusing to be seen by a male healthcare professional-is high.
If you are an obstetrician or gynaecologist at a teaching hospital, you usually tell your patient, “This is a medical student. Do you mind if he asks you some questions and examines you with me.” Most patients understand the need, but they might be unwilling to volunteer, particularly in a specialty such as obstetrics and gynaecology.
In predominantly Muslim societies, cultural values restrict women from exposing their bodies for examination by male doctors. Many women in Pakistan observe strict “parda,” for example, and will