Male GPs certify their male patients' sick leave more often than female GPs give their female patients sick leave, research has revealed.
The survey of 3,906 patients from nine general practices across Merseyside in Liverpool shows that male GPs give a larger amount of intermediate sick leave spanning from 6 to 28 weeks to male patients.
Dr Mark Gabbay from the University of Liverpool said that male and female GPs may have different assumptions about the roles of male and female patients within work, and hence their capacity to go to work.
On the other hand, he adds that male patients may be more demanding or better negotiators when talking to a male rather than a female GP.
"What is not clear is whether this group do indeed have relatively greater problems, poorer coping skills, or are more sympathetically dealt with by male than female GPs," he says.
"Sickness certification is an important outcome of a GP consultation – it has wide social and economic impact in relation to the workforce in the UK, as well as implications for the individual.
"We will be further investigating links between gender interaction and sickness consultation to determine the reasons behind this bias."