No gender-related bias in COPD diagnosis and treatment in Sweden: a randomised, controlled, case-based trial

Hamid Akbarshahi, Zainab Ahmadi, David C Currow, Jacob Sandberg, Zac Vandersman, Aaron Shanon-Honson, Magnus Ekström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: COPD is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. The prevalence, morbidity and mortality of COPD among females have increased. Previous studies indicate a possible gender bias in the diagnosis and management of COPD. The present study aims to determine if there is gender bias in the management of COPD in Sweden.

Methods: This was a double-blind, randomised (1:1), controlled, parallel-group, web-based trial using the hypothetical case scenario of a former smoker (40 pack-years and quit smoking 3 years ago) who was male or female. The participants were blind to the randomisation and the purpose of the trial. The case progressively revealed more information with associated questions on how the physician would manage the patient. Study participants chose from a list of tests and treatments at each step of the case scenario.

Results: In total, 134 physicians were randomised to a male (n=62) or a female (n=72) case. There was no difference in initial diagnosis (61 (98%) male cases and 70 (97%) female cases diagnosed with COPD) and planned diagnostic procedures between the male and female cases. Spirometry was chosen by all the physicians as one of the requested diagnostic tests. The management of the hypothetical COPD case did not differ by sex of the responding physician.

Conclusion: In Sweden, diagnosis and management of a hypothetical patient with COPD did not differ by the gender of the patient or physician.

Original languageEnglish
JournalERJ Open Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct

Bibliographical note

Copyright ©ERS 2020.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy
  • Respiratory Medicine and Allergy
  • Gender Studies


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