Study: Physicians’ Political Views Affect Patient Care

162017_132140396847214_292624_nIn a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the Yale University researchers suggested, “Just as a patient may seek out a physician of a certain gender to feel more comfortable, the evidence suggests that a patient may need to make the same calculation regarding ideology.”

The study found sharp differences in how physicians rate the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), depending on their political affiliation. The study also found that in the last twenty years, physicians in the United States have quadrupled their donations to political campaigns. Most significantly, the researchers found that physicians’ political affiliations had an impact on their concern and their treatment plans for politicized health issues such as marijuana, abortion, and firearm storage.

The Abstract to the study states:

“Physicians frequently interact with patients about politically salient health issues, such as drug use, firearm safety, and sexual behavior. We investigate whether physicians’ own political views affect their treatment decisions on these issues. We linked the records of over 20,000 primary care physicians in 29 US states to a voter registration database, obtaining the physicians’ political party affiliations. We then surveyed a sample of Democratic and Republican primary care physicians. Respondents evaluated nine patient vignettes, three of which addressed especially politicized health issues (marijuana, abortion, and firearm storage). Physicians rated the seriousness of the issue presented in each vignette and their likelihood of engaging in specific management options. On the politicized health issues—and only on such issues—Democratic and Republican physicians differed substantially in their expressed concern and their recommended treatment plan. We control for physician demographics (like age, gender, and religiosity), patient population, and geography. Physician partisan bias can lead to unwarranted variation in patient care. Awareness of how a physician’s political attitudes might affect patient care is important to physicians and patients alike.”

The researchers warned physicians, “Given the politicization of certain health issues, it is imperative that physicians consider how their own political views may impact their professional judgments.”


The fact that physicians, as a group, are politically active should not surprise many. The Doctors Company, the largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurance company in the United States, maintains Political Action Committees (PACs), and states on its website:

“DOCPAC exists to establish and protect medical liability reforms, and to help our insureds to become involved in grassroots political activity. We publish bulletins, reports, and alerts to our insureds concerning critical political issues and developments. We also raise money for political action in support of medical liability reform at the state and national level.”

“DOCPAC funds go to political candidates, coalitions, and associations that support reasonable medical liability reforms. Candidates who support our interest in medical liability reform can’t help us unless they have the funds to be competitive in elections.”


If you or a loved one suffered a bad outcome, injury, or other harm as a result of possible medical negligence in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or telephone us on our toll-free line in the United States (800-295-3959) to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you with your medical negligence claim.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, October 15th, 2016 at 5:19 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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