Janet Yates and David James of the University of Nottingham Medical School said the study is small and the findings are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution.
A relatively small number of physicians in Britain are found guilty of serious complaints, but a number of high-profile cases before the General Medical Council for professional misconduct have resulted in a large amount of media coverage and some public concern, the study authors said.
Research in this area should be ongoing "to protect the integrity of the professional and maintain the public confidence," the study authors said.
The researchers compared medical school records -- without names -- of 59 misconduct cases, with 236 that had not been referred to the General Medical Council.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found the GMC misconduct cases were more likely to be male, from lower social class groups, and they were more likely to have failed exams, repeated parts of courses or had a lower overall performance than their classmates.