Although physicians in the United States were as likely to vote in the 2018 midterm election and more likely to vote in the 2020 presidential election compared with the general population, physicians continue to face barriers to voting, including voter registration and work schedule conflicts, according to results of a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional study to assess trends in physician-voter turnout for US elections between November 2000 and November 2020. The researchers used data collected from the US Census Bureau current population survey to evaluate voter participants and registration following an election day. In addition, they used multivariable logistic regression to estimate the percentage of eligible physicians who voted in each election compared with the general population, with adjustments for demographic characteristics significantly associated with voting.

A total of 4330 physicians and 1,438,809 nonphysicians were included in the study. Of the physicians, 35.5% were women, 4.9% were Black, 5.2% were Hispanic, 77.5% were White, and 83.1% were aged between 30 and 64 years. Of note, most demographic characteristics differed between physicians and nonphysicians.


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After adjustment for demographic differences, the researchers found that pooled voter turnout was decreased among physicians vs the general population (57.4% vs 63.4%; risk ratio [RR], 0.91; 95% CI, 0.87-0.94; P <.001). Based on an analysis of individual election results, physician-voter turnout was similar compared with the general population for the 2018 US midterm election (RR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.90-1.10; P =.97) and higher for the 2020 US presidential election (RR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.00-1.18; P =.03). Of note, the gaps in voter turnout between physicians and the general population were narrower for the presidential election vs midterm election.

The researchers noted that physician-voter turnout did not differ by physician sex. They also compared physician-voter turnout between physicians and the general population from various generational cohorts, including generation X (born 1965-1978), baby boomer (born 1946-1964), and the silent generation (born 1925-1945). The researchers noted that voter turnout increased with physician age, with generation X (RR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.14-1.35), baby boomer (RR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.17-1.43), and silent generation (RR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.09-1.80) physicians more likely to vote compared with millennial participants (born 1980-1994). Of note, physician-voter turnout was increased among the US states with no-excuse mail-in voting (RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.03-1.13; P =.003).

Limitations of this study included potential reporting bias, overestimation of voter turnout, and the lack of data on voter turnout for nonprimary elections.

According to the researchers, “Voter turnout among US physicians has grown during the past 2 decades.” They also noted that changes in physician-voter turnout “were likely multifactorial and may be related to health care reform and increased focus on physicians’ civil roles.”

Reference

Ahmed A, Chouairi F, Li X. Analysis of reported voting behaviors of US physicians, 2000-2020. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(1):e2142527. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.42527