Pharmaceutical Speech: Physicians…Hear Thyself

Last night I spoke to about 200 leading marketers of a global pharmaceutical company and the subject was (you guessed it!) Half Truths and Whole Truths of healthcare.

A particularly interesting question from the audience was whether we believed that, just as female consumers hide the truth, do female doctors do it too? I have to say that most of our research is with patients not docs, and we’ve heard many women say that female doctors tend to be more personal and open with female patients. And areas like gynecology have seen an increase in the number of female physicians in response to this belief.

But when female doctors are the ‘subject’ of an interview, alongside male doctors, do they hide Whole Truths from the marketers who are trying to learn from them?

Tracy was in the audience and noted that she’d seen female doctors become more vocal and assertive when interviewed alongside their male peers. And so I wondered aloud from the stage, whether that was a result of the nature of what happens between women and men in varied professional settings.

I don’t know a woman alive who hasn’t had the experience of proposing an idea in a meeting and getting no response and then becoming irritated when two minutes later, a man offers the same idea and receives a round of high-five’s.

Do women eventually resort to playing Half Truth GAMES just to be heard? Women are women, whether they are doctors or patients. If a female doc or a patient feels the need to protect her ego by raising the volume, it may communicate more conviction than is true, when it’s really a defense measure against competitive egos. And if that’s so, are we really hearing the Whole Truth (or the one that wins in the male/female dynamic?)

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