Why Some Women Distrust Doctors

It’s difficult for some women to trust their doctors these days.  There are many reasons for the lack of trust, including the following:

Mainstream Media – Media is keeping the public updated on all sorts of unsavory events involving doctors.   For example, many media headlines are exposing doctors who sexually abuse female patients.  Media also keeps us updated about the tendency of so-called regulatory committees to allow these doctors to continue practicing.  A national investigation revealed that doctors sexually abuse their patients more often than commonly thought, and that “a broken system forgives sexually abusive doctors in every state” (source).   In addition, “Dollars and Doctors”, a Propublica series containing over 70 articles, highlights problems related to the association between the pharmaceutical industry and physicians (source).  Other media headlines highlight stories related to doctors abusing drugs, making careless errors during surgery, inaccurate diagnoses, and deadly mistakes stemming from greed and/or incompetence (source).

Social Media – It’s a bit shocking when a doctor writes a blog post warning patients to not trust doctors, but in a post written by Dr. Peter Rost he plainly states “I’m a doctor, so I can say this with a straight face: Don’t trust your doctor. There’s no question in my mind that today most doctors are businessmen first and doctors second”  (source). This doctor’s post is difficult to ignore.  Social media also allows women to share negative health care experiences, and these shared experiences can help other women to avoid the same situations.  For example, women discuss negative encounters with doctors when they have conditions unrelated to their reproductive organs that need treatment, but their doctors ignore their conditions, instead attempting to coerce them into unwanted pap tests and other screening (source)

Evidence-Practice Gap – It can be difficult to trust a doctor who ignores or is unaware of the most recent available scientific evidence in relation to screening and exams such as pap tests, pelvic exams, and breast screening.  In some cases female patients are more up to date regarding current evidence than their doctors are.  It’s difficult to trust  doctors who attempt to coerce women into screening and exams by misrepresenting the evidence, when research reviews raise serious questions about the benefits of  pap tests (source), pelvic exams (source), and breast exams (source).  The evidence also highlights the harms associated with these types of screening, such as over diagnosis and follow up interventions that are unnecessary and can be harmful.  Some women are up to date regarding this recent scientific evidence, and these women may be left questioning their doctor’s competence and/or motives when his/her practices contradict the evidence.

Paternalism – It’s often easy to forget that doctors are working for their female patients given some doctor’s way of relating to them.  For example, when it comes to pap tests there is usually no discussion or shared decision involved.  Women often don’t get offered a choice about whether or not they want to have a pap test; and regardless of the reason for their visit they are simply expected to comply.  In fact, the withholding of informed consent has been standard practice for such a long time, and has been done so cleverly, that some women are not even aware that they have a right to choose.  Paternalism in medicine has deep roots, extending beyond doctors’ behavior and their tendency to withhold informed consent.  Women have had to endure what is commonly referred to as bikini medicine for a long time.  Bikini medicine refers to the tendency of scientists and doctors to focus only on a woman’s breasts and genitals, rather than on the whole body (source).  The tendency to focus on bikini areas to the exclusion of other body parts is concerning for a few reasons, including the fact that heart disease is a main cause of mortality in both men and women (source).  When researchers and practitioners focus on bikini areas there is less focus on the other areas, thus placing women at risk.

Personal Experience –  Some women experience physical and psychological harm as a result of physicians’ practices.  This blog is full of women’s shared experiences that reveal many more reasons why some women distrust doctors.  On this blog there are more than 10,000 comments, many of which reveal women’s experiences with doctors’ practices.  Many of these comments can be found under the following posts:  The Other Side of the Speculum: A Male Doctor’s Point of ViewDiscussion Forum,  and Psychological Harms of Pelvic Exams.

About forwomenseyesonly

Hi. My name is Sue and I am interested in promoting holistic and respectful health care.
Gallery | This entry was posted in lack of trust in doctors, medical sexual misconduct, pap test, pap test coercion, unnecessary pap test and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Why Some Women Distrust Doctors

  1. cindy knoke says:

    You make some very important points here. I wish your information would be included in medical education.

    • It’s nice to see you Cindy, and thanks so much for the feedback! That would be wonderful if it were 🙂

      • Penelope says:

        Thanks for the new post, Sue!

        We’ve been kind of feeding off of ourselves since the last post…..didn’t realize it was that long ago. This site – our site – is so invaluable. In a sea of websites – from hospitals to medical facilities and independent medical “officials” and offices that still keep up the lies about pelvics and paps and withholding the truth about the rarity of cervical cancer, our site is indeed a very welcome necessity to keep us grounded; keep us hoping; keep us fighting. I’m so glad you have the courage to keep it up. Our site has become known amongst our opponents. I’ve seen it mentioned in a derogatory way on one of those sites that promote pelvics; my apologies – I surf so much that I forgot the site. I wonder, though, if our opposers contact you – criticizing you – threatening you – trying to shut you down. I notice now that when I post comments, I get a message stating that my comments are being moderated – is this a result of outsiders trying to take legal steps against you? If you are being antagonized by those against our site, please let us know; please don’t let them discourage you as there’s so much misinformation misleading women. They must know the truth and unfortunately it’s taking time. Those who find our site sound like women who have found land after being lost at sea – dragging onto the beach and falling on the sand grateful to be safe and finding help. Please do keep our site, Sue; keep on giving us new posts; new information; new points to ponder.

        Be Blessed!

      • Thanks Penelope! I agree this is an important site for all the good reasons you mention, well worth keeping up. The comments (almost 11,000 now!) keep it up and running, so valuable. I’m glad to provide a new forum with more space!
        Sue 🙂

  2. adawells says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-39753498

    Just splashed all over the news here in the UK is this surgeon, who is expected to end up in prison, for carrying out unnecessary surgery on patients. Those who got the “treatment” privately are not expected to get any compensation, due to the private health care businesses getting themselves off the hook. I wonder how many of these women, ended up there through screening?

    • Penelope says:

      Hi Adawells:

      I just wanted to say Thanks. You gave me a nice compliment to one of my recent posts and I didn’t acknowledge it. Now, I can’t seem to find it. For what it’s worth to you – I’m sorry about that.

      Thanks again – be blessed.

  3. moo says:

    What might help some patients trust their doctors more is easier access to medical records for the patient and more control over what shared between others in the healthcare chain. While it might be and an advantage to have important information about medications or conditions such as diabetes or allergies available readily to emergency staff, I do not want my cancer screening history or lack of available to every single primary care provider I see. I want more control and more privacy. While it is possible to black out sime information sharing, the system is not easy to navigate. I just want more choices.

    • Alice says:

      Absolutely agree! It is time to end the practice when medical information is a one-way road: patients are expected to disclose every private detail with the doctors, while doctors are free to warp the facts and choose what to tell their patients and what to hide.

      For example, in Australia any medical record is legally the property of the doctor, even though every the patient is paying for its existence at their appointments. To add insult to an injury, the doctors have the right not to show the record to the patients. It’s outrageous!

  4. Lauren says:

    I had a doctor blame all of my problems on depression, but neglected to tell me that. He had me coming in every month acting like he was trying to figure out what was wrong. If he’d just told me that, I could’ve said it can’t be depression and if he still was being a jerk, found someone else. If I’m upset I don’t eat (my chief complaint was a ravenous appetite, not ONCE was this mentioned in my records). He also hounded me about getting a pap smear. Sorry, I refuse to support ob/gyns. I can’t support someone who thinks it’s acceptable to tell an 18 year old girl with debilitating cramps “that’s what’s so wonderful about menopause, you don’t have to worry about those things anymore”. I complained of a few symptoms to that thing, 2 of which are well known symptoms of hypothyroidism, and she just blew me off. If I didn’t have hypothyroidism I’d never go back to a doctor.

  5. Sick of big pharma and their lies says:

    I don’t trust doctors because they have proven to me their job is to sell me drugs and not protect my health. Even after I told my gyn that hormonal birthcontrol makes me suicidal and too emotional to function she still tries to push it on me. She even takes it a step further by manipulateing data and insisting condoms have an 18 percent failure rate. Which is bs. The pill has a higher failure rate actually because it’s effectivenes is contingent upon remembering to take it at the exact same time daily. And let’s face it, how many of us can do that. Unfortunately for her I’m not stupid so she sold zero drugs that day. My sanity comes before her beach house.

  6. adawells says:

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/26/rogue-doctors-use-superhero-status-abuse-patients-ian-paterson-myles-bradbury?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=241183&subid=12717179&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

    Some revealing observations raised here about how these doctors operate and some good tips for patients to be aware of. When I was getting treatment for cancer you are on a conveyor belt of appointments with no detail in the letter about what would take place at that appointment. As patients we should start asking questions about the necessity of every appointment and what will happen there.

  7. diane says:

    how can women trust Drs ? they don’t respect a women’s right to refuse screening. celebrities
    opening talking about female organs being removed as prevention. Breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate reveals she recently had ovaries removed
    FOX News · 8 hours ago
    After undergoing a double mastectomy in 2008, breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate has preventively had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. “Two weeks ago, I had my ovaries and [fallopian] tubes removed,

    They its. like taking out a mechanical part and saying the device will still work.
    I feel don’t care about the long lasting mental effects on women.

    I have had enough of Drs abusing women, as preventive medicine.

    diane

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