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Patients' choice of general practitioner: influence of patients' fluency in English and the ethnicity and sex of the doctor.

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  • Research Article
  • Communication
  • Linguistics


Asian patients' use of general practitioner services and, in particular, their interaction with doctors is not well researched. However, difficulty in communication and in the case of women, reluctance to be examined by a male doctor has been reported. This study, based on interviews with 241 Caucasian, Pakistani and Indian patients attending a general practice in Bradford, examined the relationship between choice of general practitioner and the patient's fluency in English and the general practitioner's ethnicity and sex. Both Pakistani and Indian patients, particularly women, had poor fluency in English and the use of interpreters was confined to women (11% of Pakistani women and 4% of Indian women). The linguistic and broad cultural concordance between the patient and the general practitioner was more important in the choice of doctor than the sex of the general practitioner. It was also found that while 62% of Pakistani women objected to being examined by a male doctor, this was true for only 21% of Indian women.

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