• gender;
  • male nurse;
  • female nurse;
  • preferences;
  • patients;
  • survey

Preferences for female and male nurses: the role of age, gender and previous experience – year 2000 compared with 1984

Background. The situations in which patients prefer a male or female nurse are not clear, as the literature reports differing relationships between gender and preference. Furthermore, most research has focused on female preferences.

Methods. This questionnaire study investigated the preferences of both males and females for a male or female nurse, depending on four clinical situations. The role of age and previous experience with a male nurse was also taken into account. Gender, age and experience were further examined in relation to attitudes towards professional nursing practice. To determine whether preferences and attitudes have changed over time, the study was replicated in 2000, having been first conducted in 1984. Data were collected from the same general practice waiting room on each occasion.

Results. Consistent with previous research, the degree of intimacy in a clinical situation was found to be predictive of same-gender preferences. Younger females may prefer female nurses more than older females. Experience with male nurses was limited in both samples, but was not predictive of preferences or attitudes.

Conclusions. Generally speaking, results from 1984 and 2000 were not significantly different. As a quantitative study, this research contributes to an understanding of patient preferences. However, in-depth, qualitative research is recommended to understand better the reasons for preferences and attitudes, for both male and female patients.