When physicians jump into the political fray, their contributions mirror the general public’s party affiliation trends: a high degree of polarization, with men and higher-income specialties more likely to donate to Republicans, according to an analysis of campaign donations.
The trends hold true when looking specifically at radiology, as 64 percent of contributing male radiologist supported Republicans compared with 43 percent of female radiologists.
The study, published in the August issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, was based on publically available data for gifts over $200. Authors Adam Bonica, PhD, of the political science department at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and colleagues included filings from 1991 through 2012, and used National Provider Identifier files to identify physician contributors.
Physician contributions rose sharply over the study period. Fewer than 12,000 physicians contributed a total of $20 million during the 1991-92 election cycle, but the 2011-12 cycle saw nearly 68,000 physicians contribute a total of $143.2 million.
Overall, contributions went from leaning slightly Republican in 1992 to leaning Democrat in 2012, though the percentage of male physicians donating to Republicans far outpaced that of female physicians at 57 percent versus 31 percent.
Only 30 percent of total contributions by female radiologists went to Republicans, compared with 58 percent of the total amount from male radiologists. Trends in interventional radiology were similar, with 60 percent of contributing men supporting Republicans compared with 44 percent of women.
“Now that the medical profession sits on both sides of the political aisle, will the Republican and Democratic parties devote unprecedented energy and shape policy to attract physician loyalty?” asked Bonica and colleagues. “Or will the increasing polarization of the profession increase the political participation of physicians even as it reduces the ability of physicians to reach consensus on healthcare policy?”