Many studies in coaching literature have found that male athletes tend to prefer a male coach. Newly released research from the University of Alberta has indicated that male athletes actually prefer a female team physician to attend to their medical issues, including those related to sexual health.
What we found is that male athletes tend to feel that female team physicians are more caring and sympathetic towards their medical issues and are easier to talk to, said University of Alberta researcher Dr. Marni Wesner. It appears that it is the stereotypical mothering or nurturing aspect of a female personality that male athletes appreciate.
Other personal attributes of importance to athletes included the team physicians concern for them as people and athletes, as well as being understanding and respectful. Good listening and communication skills from the team physician were also paramount, as was having compassion towards the athlete. Trust, sensitivity and understanding were important, as was having a positive, encouraging and open-minded attitude towards the athlete with a professional approach and a willingness to help.
While the gender of a physician played a role in an athletes preference for the gender of their team physician, we found that athletes were mainly concerned in the physicians level of experience, education and medical qualifications, said Dr. Wesner.
For this study, Wesner and Vallance analyzed a combination of questionnaires and interviews from a variety of University of Alberta varsity athletes during the 2002-2003 season.