iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Whether your doctor is a Democrat or Republican could affect the kind of care you receive, especially when it comes to politically charged issues, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers at Yale University linked the records of primary care physicians in 29 states to a voter registration database and then surveyed them on how they would address hypothetical patient scenarios, some of which focused on politicized health issues like marijuana, abortion, and firearm storage.
They found significant differences in how seriously Democratic versus Republican doctors viewed these issues, but not apolitical ones like obesity and cigarette use.
They also found that physicians would counsel patients differently — Republican doctors being more likely to urge patients to stop using marijuana and discourage future abortions, and Democratic doctors being more likely to urge patients not to store firearms in the home.
The study has several notable limitations, including the fact that researchers surveyed only primary care physicians (no specialists) and had a relatively low survey response rate (only 20 percent of surveyed doctors responded). The study also only focused on hypothetical scenarios and did not observe what doctors would actually do in these situations.
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