Things Your Doctor’s Secretly Judging You For

From the gross to the downright strange, your doctor’s definitely seen more than you can imagine. And whenever you’re having any sort of health issue, you should feel free to contact your general practitioner for their opinion. Ideally, medical professionals will consider your needs without bias. But in reality, your doctor is probably judging you. Here’s what they’re assessing as soon as they see you.

1. Your weight

Two feet shown on a scale.

As if you weren’t already self-conscious enough. | Nensuria/iStock/Getty Images

Being overweight isn’t just a societal stigma — your doctor may also judge you for it. A study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine found patients who were overweight or obese experienced less respect from their doctors than those with an average BMI. Even doctors who think they’re without this bias may still subconsciously mistreat their overweight patients. On the other side of the coin, U.S. News & World Report says underweight patients are also unfairly judged.

2. Your gender

A patient sits with their doctor.

Women face yet another disadvantage in the medical field. | NanoStockk/iStock/Getty Images

Unfortunately, gender bias is still alive and well in the medical community. The Atlantic shares a story of a man who’s wife waited about 14 hours for treatment for an ovarian torsion. He also cited this study from the Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics stating women are treated less aggressively for their pain than men. And another study found women were 13% to 25% less likely to be given high-strength meds for abdominal pain. Sorry, ladies — your pain may not be taken as seriously as it should be by your doctor.

3. Your name

A doctor and his patient talk across a table.

Some names might get quicker responses than others. | Daizuoxin/iStock/Getty Images

Your doctor might actually judge you if you have a non-white sounding name, Prevention reports. A study from the University of Vermont found those with the name “Allison” were much more likely to get a call back from a therapist than those with the name “Lakisha” — two common names in both white and black communities. Most mental health workers really do strive to be fair to all potential clients. But this shows there is still bias at play.

4. Your ethnicity

A doctor is talking with young female patient in an office.

A very scary thought to consider. | George Rudy/iStock/Getty Images

A review of studies from Scientific Research found non-white patients are not treated the same for pain management in the emergency room. Also, if you don’t speak fluent English, medical professionals may not take your pain as seriously. And that’s not all — there’s also research showing African American patients are more likely to get a schizophrenia diagnosis. White folks, on the other hand, are typically told they have a mood disorder. This doesn’t suggest African American people are more likely to actually have this condition, but rather their race impacts their diagnosis greatly.  

5. Your socioeconomic status

A patient sits with her doctor in an office.

You never know what your doctor is really thinking. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus

CNN reports it’s not just your race that’s up for judgment — there’s also your wealth and type of insurance. Dr. Cornelius Flowers, a cardiologist, tells the publication, “If a patient is of a low socioeconomic status, a doctor might think, why do I have to go out of my way for this guy? I’ll just have to do the minimum I have to do and send him on his way.” Flowers notes younger minority patients are demanding better health care for themselves, however, so doctors are taking them more seriously. 

6. Your height — if you need a transplant

Doctor showing X-ray to a patient.

Your doctor might be biased over things you couldn’t imagine. | John kellerman/iStock/Getty Images

According to research from the Columbia University Medical Center, your height may affect your chances of getting a lung transplant. The research found women who were shorter than 5-foot-4 in need of this transplant are a lot less likely to receive one. Because of this, they have a 62% higher chance of dying while they wait. Doctors try to give small transplant recipients smaller lungs, which are harder to come by. But the reality is larger lungs can be (and should be) downsized for shorter patients.

7. Your behavior

A woman talks to her doctor while holding a bottle of pills.

Your doctor will respond to your body language. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Body language might matter to your doctor, too. According to HER, medical professionals are taking your physical appearance, behavior, and attitude into account. And how you speak is also judged, as your doctor may note what you say and how you say it to determine if you could have depression. They also look for non-verbal cues to see if you’re avoiding any questions or leaving out vital information.