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BMJ classic – Phenotypic differences between male physicians, surgeons, and film stars

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Getting ready for the almighty BMJ christmas issue – here are some extracts from a classic a few years back…..

Phenotypic differences between male physicians, surgeons, and film stars: comparative study

Objectives: To test the hypothesis that, on average, male surgeons are taller and better looking than male physicians, and to compare both sets of doctors with film stars who play doctors on screen.

Setting: Typical university hospital in Spain, located in Barcelona and not in a sleepy backwater.

Participants: Random sample of 12 surgeons and 12 physicians plus 4 external controls (film stars who play doctors), matched by age (50s) and sex (all male).

Interventions: An independent committee (all female) evaluated the “good looking score” (range 1-7).

Main outcome measures: Height (cm) and points on the good looking score.

Results Surgeons were significantly taller than physicians (mean height 179.4 v 172.6 cm; P=0.01). Controls had significantly higher good looking scores than surgeons (mean score 5.96 v 4.39; difference between means 1.57, 95% confidence interval 0.69 to 2.45; P=0.013) and physicians (5.96 v 3.65; 2.31, 1.58 to 3.04; P=0.003). Surgeons had significantly higher good looking scores than physicians (4.39 v 3.65; 0.74; 0.25 to 1.23; P=0.010).

Conclusions: Male surgeons are taller and better looking than physicians, but film stars who play doctors on screen are better looking than both these groups of doctors. Whether these phenotypic differences are genetic or environmental is unclear.

BMJ  2006;333:1291-1293 (December 23rd)

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