Doctor of the Day is the OB/GYN

OB/GYNs popularly considered primary care doctor among minority women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Beyond a family practice or internal medicine doctor, women can visit their gynecologists for medical issues. Obstetrics and gynecology doctors, or OB/GYNs, can provide the same medical expertise and advice as a regular doctor.

A study presented at a recent conference showed minority women are most likely to visit their OB/GYN as their regular doctor, though only 20 percent reported their OB/GYNs cared for all their health needs.

These "lady" doctors can play a critical role in educating women and providing preventative care, according to researchers.

"Don't have a primary care doctor yet? Your OB/GYN could do the job."

Mary Rosser, MD, PhD, OB/GYN, from the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health in Montefiore Medical Center and assistant professor at Yeshiva University, led the study looking into how many women viewed and visited their OB/GYN as their primary doctor.

Researchers also measured patients' heart health awareness. The study surveyed 498 adult women at five OB/GYN offices affiliated with an academic hospital center in the Bronx, New York.

About 40 percent of the women reported having diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or some other serious medical condition.

When given the option of seeing only one doctor each year, Hispanics, black and Asian populations saw their OB/GYNs more than an internal medicine doctor or internist, researchers found.

About 50 percent of Hispanics, 45 percent of blacks and 50 percent of Asians opted for their OB/GYN over an internist.

Among whites, 39 percent preferred an OB/GYN compared to about 56 percent who preferred an internist.

A little more than two-thirds of the women said their OB/GYN did not talk about heart health, and 80 percent felt their OB/GYN did not take care of all their health needs.

As reported by patients, less than 45 percent of OB/GYNs discussed patients' weight during visits.

Further, about 40 percent of the OB/GYNs discussed smoking, 50 percent discussed exercise and about 56 percent talked about diet.

“These data show the critical role OB/GYNs play in providing preventive care and education to women who often consider them their primary care provider,” Dr. Rosser said in a press release.

“We as OB/GYNs must embrace our role in caring for our patients and ensure we’re doing everything possible to prevent heart disease and other chronic conditions.”

In total, a little more than half the women between 18 and 40 years of age reported visiting their OB/GYN annually as their regular doctor. Among women above 41 years of age, 68 percent met with an internist.

The study was presented March 11 at the 62nd Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology in San Francisco.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 16, 2013
Last Updated:
March 19, 2013