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Confidence Gap Between Male and Female Med Students

Women’s answers more accurate than men’s, but they are less confident in their responses

FRIDAY, March 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Female medical students perform at the same or higher level as men, but they lack confidence compared with men, according to a letter published in the March 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Jason Theobald, from the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues examined the correlation between confidence and accuracy among users of a mobile web platform designed for medical students. Users must select a confidence rating before answering a question in the platform. Data were included for 617 men and 404 women.

The researchers found that, although women’s answers were more accurate than men’s (percent correct, 61.4 versus 60.3; P = 0.040), they were less confident in their answers. “I’m sure” was selected significantly less often by women than men (39.5 versus 44.0 percent of responses). For questions rated as “I’m sure” and “feeling lucky,” the average accuracy was higher for women than men (80.5 versus 78.3 percent of “I’m sure” responses were correct; 53.5 versus 49.8 percent of “feeling lucky” responses were correct). There was no difference noted in the average number of questions answered by male and female users (P = 0.40).

“Insights gained from understanding the relationship between confidence and accuracy in medical trainees may ultimately prove valuable in reducing diagnostic errors caused by overconfidence and sex disparities caused by lack of confidence,” the authors write.

The authors disclosed financial ties to Knowledge Diffusion, which makes the Osmosis earning program described in the study.

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