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A Gender Perspective in Medicine

A gender perspective in medicine provides insight into the ways in which sex and gender differences are significant in medicine.

A gender perspective in medicine is therefore multidimensional because all players in research, education and health care processes have a gender and the nature of these processes and the environments in which they exist can also be gendered.

So, for example, from the patient’s perspective a gender perspective in medicine acknowledges the different roles masculinity and femininity play in men’s and women’s health:

  • following emergency room treatment for unstable angina men have a greater rate of procedures than women and men still suffer worse outcomes (Roger, VL. Sex Differences in Evaluation and Outcome of Unstable Angina, JAMA 2000; 283(5) :7).

From the provider’s perspective a gender perspective acknowledges the ways in which the gender of the provider impacts on the health care event:

  • in cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence, victims are far less likely to present to a doctor of the same gender as the perpetrator.

From an educational perspective a gender perspective identifies the gendered nature of medical knowledge/education/texts/teaching styles:

  • most medical texts contain diagrams that show the ‘human abdomen’ with a testicular artery

The gender neutral language makes invisible the gendered representation of the human abdomen. Clearly the correct label would be male abdomen or human, with women described in complimentary detail.

A gender perspective of…

  • medical evidence a cknowledges the clinical consequences of gender blind medical research and the resulting medical evidence
  • the patient acknowledges the different roles that masculinity and femininity play in men’s and women’s health
  • the provider acknowledges the ways in which the sex or gender of the provider impacts on the health care event
  • medical education i dentifies the gendered nature of medical knowledge/education/texts/teaching styles and environments
  • clinical practice acknowledges the way in which the sex or gender of the patient impacts on clinical testing, diagnostics, treatment and outcomes

…and this list is by no means complete

Content by Ann-Maree Nobelius, 23 June 2004