We found substantial disparities in the way primary care clinicians identified boys and girls with similar parent-reported symptoms. These disparities in the identification of mental health problems produce differences in their treatment, said William Gardner, Ph.D., professor of medicine and psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Primary care clinicians (PCCs) were more likely to identify boys using the term my patient. The researchers suggest this may be the case because boys were more likely to be seen by male clinicians, who are more likely to work in settings that support continuity of care. According to the researchers, clinicians who saw their own patients were substantially more likely to find and treat mental health problems in those patients.
The researchers found that compared with girls, visits by boys with similar parent-reported symptoms were more likely to be perceived by the PCC as mental health related. PCCs were more likely to find and treat mental health problems during visits perceived as mental health visits.
This may have occurred because parents were more likely to label a boys behavior as a mental health problem. Alternatively, whereas parents may have labeled boys and girls behavior similarly, they may have been more likely to seek medical care for such behavior when exhibited by a boy. Finally, because we relied on the PCCs report, it is possible that the clinician was more likely to label the visit as mental health related when the patient was a boy, said Dr. Gardner.
Boys with parent-reported symptoms similar to girls symptoms were more likely to be identified as having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems or other behavior or
Contact: Jocelyn Uhl
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center