A conceptual muddle: an empirical analysis of the use of 'sex' and 'gender' in 'gender-specific medicine' journals.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: At the same time as there is increasing awareness in medicine of the risks of exaggerating differences between men and women, there is a growing professional movement of 'gender-specific medicine' which is directed towards analysing 'sex' and 'gender' differences. The aim of this article is to empirically explore how the concepts of 'sex' and 'gender' are used in the new field of 'gender-specific medicine', as reflected in two medical journals which are foundational to this relatively new field. METHOD AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The data consist of all articles from the first issue of each journal in 2004 and an issue published three years later (n = 43). In addition, all editorials over this period were included (n = 61). Quantitative and qualitative content analyses were undertaken by the authors. Less than half of the 104 papers used the concepts of 'sex' and 'gender'. Less than 1 in 10 papers attempted any definition of the concepts. Overall, the given definitions were simple, unspecific and created dualisms between men and women. Almost all papers which used the two concepts did so interchangeably, with any possible interplay between 'sex' and gender' referred to only in six of the papers. CONCLUSION: The use of the concepts of 'sex' and gender' in 'gender-specific medicine' is conceptually muddled. The simple, dualistic and individualised use of these concepts increases the risk of essentialism and reductivist thinking. It therefore highlights the need to clarify the use of the terms 'sex' and 'gender' in medical research and to develop more effective ways of conceptualising the interplay between 'sex' and 'gender' in relation to different diseases.
Project description:It has been argued that gender essentialism impedes progress towards greater gender equality. Here we present a new gender essentialism scale (GES), and validate it in two large nationally representative samples from Denmark and Australia. In both samples the GES was highly reliable and predicted lack of support for sex-role egalitarianism and support for gender discrimination, as well as perceived fairness of gender-based treatment in the Australian sample, independently of two established predictors (i.e., social dominance orientation and conservative political orientation). In addition, gender essentialism assessed by the GES moderated some manifestations of the backlash effect: high essentialists were more likely to respond negatively towards a power-seeking female political candidate relative to a male candidate. Given the implications for possible workplace interventions, further work could usefully explore whether gender essentialism moderates other well-established forms of gender bias.
Project description:Background and aim: Gender medicine takes into account biological and social differences between men and women in terms of prevalence and course of disease, diagnosis and therapy. Medical students should be made aware of this in the early stages of medical education. However, there is hardly any teaching material currently available. This article presents the adaption and first use of the German "Gender Lens," a tool to introduce gender medicine to medical students. Method: The original Canadian "Gender Lens Tool" was translated into German, tested by (n=5) teachers and adapted based on current scientific concepts. The instrument was applied and evaluated using qualitative methods in a student focus group (n=4). It was then piloted in a cohort of fourth-semester students (n=247) in a seminar addressing gender medicine. These experiences were evaluated using quantitative methods. Results: The German translation of the Gender Lens offers students a framework with which to analyze sex and gender differences in terms of the "prevalence, diagnosis, course, therapy and prevention" of a specific disease. Furthermore, it enables a refined search for causes such as "biological disposition, attitudes and behaviors, family and social networks, occupational and material circumstances and experiences with the health care system." Recommendations were received from the student groups regarding teaching methods. Male and female fourth-semester students agreed that the Gender Lens is useful as an introduction to gender medicine. Discussion: Initial experiences with the Gender Lens adapted for the German curriculum suggest that such a learning aid can contribute to raising awareness of gender medicine in medical students.
Project description:Public health research often focuses on gender differences within certain diagnoses, but so far research has failed to explain these differences in a satisfactory way. Theoretical development could be one prerequisite for moving beyond categorical thinking. The aim of this paper was to analyse how gender theories have been used in public health research in relation to various methodological approaches.Six special issues of gender research with public health relevance (comprising 33 papers in total) were identified from a search of PubMed and Web of Science, spanning a 10-year period. The papers were analysed inductively through posing questions to the text.Gender theories were used in eight different ways: 1. to test hypotheses, 2. integrate theories, 3. develop gender concepts and models, 4. interpret findings, 5. understand health problems, 6. illustrate the validity of other theories, 7. integrated into a gender blind theory, as well as to 8. critique of other gender theories. The strategies applied seemed independent of the health aspects of the papers. However, the methodologies were of importance, indicating that both theoretical papers and papers using qualitative methodologies used almost all available strategies, while papers using quantitative empirical research used a limited number of strategies.This study contributes to identifying how gender theories are used in contemporary public health research, which can help researchers move beyond a categorical understanding of gender in health research.
Project description:Though sex/gender is an important social determinant of health, sex/gender inequalities have not been considered comprehensively in environmental health research thus far. The aim of this systematic review was to clarify whether sex/gender theoretical concepts were addressed in studies on the impact of residential green space on self-rated health and whether effect modification by sex/gender was observed. Three electronic databases were searched to identify epidemiological studies on perceived or objective residential green/blue space and self-rated health. Necessary for study inclusion was mentioning at least one keyword for sex/gender in title or abstract, adult study participants and data on self-rated health and on availability and/or use of green/blue spaces. Decisive for study inclusion was consideration of sex/gender differences in the impact of perceived or objective residential green/blue spaces on self-rated health in the analysis and presentation of results. Seven studies were included. They presented an overall positive impact of green space on self-rated health. No consistent sex/gender differences in the impact of green space on self-rated health were found in these studies. However, all studies used a binary operationalization male/female without further theoretical foundation. Research quality could be enhanced by integrating sex/gender-theoretical concepts into study design and interpretation of results.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Sex and gender influence health and disease outcomes, therefore, doctors should be able to deliver gender-sensitive care. To train gender-sensitive doctors, relevant sex and gender differences have to be included in medical education. In order to develop appealing, relevant, and effective education for undergraduate medical students, education should be tailored to students' level and anticipated on their ideas and assumptions. Therefore, we wanted to answer the following research questions: 1. What do aspiring medical students want to learn about gender medicine?; 2. How would they like to learn about gender medicine?; and 3. What are their ideas and assumptions about sex and gender differences in health and disease? METHODS:We performed an explorative thematic document analysis of educational assignments made by successful applicants (n?=?50) during the selection procedure of their entry into medical school. To test aspirants' capacity for self-directed learning, students were asked to formulate their own study plan after they watched a video that resembled a future practical experience (a consultation with a patient). As the content of this video was gender-sensitive, the assignments of the successful applicants gave us the unique opportunity to examine aspiring medical students' views about gender medicine. RESULTS:Aspiring medical students were eager to start their training to become gender-sensitive doctors. They believed in better care for all patients and thought doctors should obtain gender competences during their medical training. Students preferred to start with acquiring basic biomedical knowledge about differences between men and women and continue their training by developing gender-sensitive communication skills in (simulated) practical settings. Students differed in their interpretation of the gender-sensitive video, some generalized potential differences to all men and all women. Teachers were considered as important role models in learning about gender medicine. CONCLUSIONS:We advise medical schools to teach gender medicine from the beginning of medical school, by focusing on sex differences first and adding gender related themes later on in the curriculum. As students may interpret gender-sensitive information differently, structurally embedding reflection on gender medicine with gender competent teachers is necessary.
Project description:The authors argue, in line with recent research, that operationalizing gender ideology as a unidimensional construct ranging from traditional to egalitarian is problematic and propose an alternative framework that takes the multidimensionality of gender ideologies into account. Using latent class analysis, they operationalize their gender ideology framework based on data from the 2008 European Values Study, of which eight European countries reflecting the spectrum of current work-family policies were selected. The authors examine the form in which gender ideologies cluster in the various countries. Five ideology profiles were identified: egalitarian, egalitarian essentialism, intensive parenting, moderate traditional, and traditional. The five ideology profiles were found in all countries, but with pronounced variation in size. Ideologies mixing gender essentialist and egalitarian views appear to have replaced traditional ideologies, even in countries offering some institutional support for gendered separate spheres.
Project description:Aim: Although criteria and recommendations for the successful integration of sex- and gender-sensitive aspects in medical teaching have already been published, only a few medical faculties in Germany have conducted the systematic integration of sex- and gender-sensitive medicine. The aim of this expert survey, therefore, was to describe the current approaches to the integration of sex- and gender-sensitive medicine in teaching in the sense of Good Practice. Method: Between April and June 2018, guided interviews were conducted with nine experts in the field of sex- and gender-sensitive medicine. Each of the experts had had experience of implementing sex- and gender-sensitive medicine at their universities. The expert interviews were then evaluated by means of quality content analysis, and frequency analyses were carried out. Results: Aspects of sex- and gender-sensitive medicine were integrated both longitudinally and selectively into the compulsory curriculum or elective fields of various medical, health and nursing science courses. In the opinion of the experts, medical studies should promote the students' gender sensitivity and in particular impart knowledge about the psychosocial and biological aspects of sex- and gender-related differences and sex- and gender-sensitive communication. For the methodological implementation of the integrated contents, didactic resources were partly adapted or developed. The players in the implementation process were confronted with various challenges, e.g. the involvement of the lecturers, the perception of sex- and gender-sensitive medicine as a women's theme as well as ensuring the sustainable integration of sex- and gender-sensitive medicine, which is also structurally anchored in the faculty. Aspects of the curricular integration (e.g. evidence-basing, relevance in examinations) and the structural anchoring (e.g. central organization, staff availability) were mentioned i.a. as being crucial for success. A combination of top-down and bottom-up processes, e.g. by involving the faculty management but also by supporting student initiatives, was described as conducive to success. Conclusion: The depicted approaches to the integration of sex- and gender-sensitive teaching contents give insight as to how sex- and gender-sensitive medicine can be integrated into the curricula. The interviews with the experts point to current themes related to sex- and gender-sensitive medicine and didactic resources. Moreover, it becomes clear which challenges are to be expected for the integration of sex- and gender-sensitive medicine in teaching and how these can be addressed. Particularly the involvement of the faculty's lecturers but also the sustainable integration and continual quality assurance of sex- and gender-sensitive contents present challenges of a crucial nature.
Project description:Social essentialism entails the belief that certain social categories (e.g., gender, race) mark fundamentally distinct kinds of people. Essentialist beliefs have pernicious consequences, supporting social stereotyping and contributing to prejudice. How does social essentialism develop? In the studies reported here, we tested the hypothesis that generic language facilitates the cultural transmission of social essentialism. Two studies found that hearing generic language about a novel social category diverse for race, ethnicity, age, and sex led 4-y-olds and adults to develop essentialist beliefs about that social category. A third study documented that experimentally inducing parents to hold essentialist beliefs about a novel social category led them to produce more generic language when discussing the category with their children. Thus, generic language facilitates the transmission of essentialist beliefs about social categories from parents to children.
Project description:Gender- and sex- related differences represent a new frontier towards patient-tailored medicine, taking into account that theoretically every medical specialty can be influenced by both of them. Sex hormones define the differences between males and females, and the different endocrine environment promoted by estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, and their precursors might influence both human physiology and pathophysiology. With the term Gender we refer, instead, to behaviors, roles, expectations, and activities carried out by the individual in society. In other words, "gender" refers to a sociocultural sphere of the individual, whereas "sex" only defines the biological sex. In the last decade, increasing attention has been paid to understand the influence that gender can have on both the human physiology and pathogenesis of diseases. Even the clinical response to therapy may be influenced by sex hormones and gender, but further research is needed to investigate and clarify how they can affect the human pathophysiology. The path to a tailored medicine in which every patient is able to receive early diagnosis, risk assessments, and optimal treatments cannot exclude the importance of gender. In this review, we have focused our attention on the involvement of sex hormones and gender on different endocrine diseases.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Shared decision making (SDM) in healthcare is an approach in which health professionals support patients in making decisions based on best evidence and their values and preferences. Considering sex and gender in SDM research is necessary to produce precisely-targeted interventions, improve evidence quality and redress health inequities. A first step is correct use of terms. We therefore assessed sex and gender terminology in SDM intervention studies. MATERIALS AND METHODS:We performed a secondary analysis of a Cochrane review of SDM interventions. We extracted study characteristics and their use of sex, gender or related terms (mention; number of categories). We assessed correct use of sex and gender terms using three criteria: "non-binary use", "use of appropriate categories" and "non-interchangeable use of sex and gender". We computed the proportion of studies that met all, any or no criteria, and explored associations between criteria met and study characteristics. RESULTS:Of 87 included studies, 58 (66.7%) mentioned sex and/or gender. The most mentioned related terms were "female" (60.9%) and "male" (59.8%). Of the 58 studies, authors used sex and gender as binary variables respectively in 36 (62%) and in 34 (58.6%) studies. No study met the criterion "non-binary use". Authors used appropriate categories to describe sex and gender respectively in 28 (48.3%) and in 8 (13.8%) studies. Of the 83 (95.4%) studies in which sex and/or gender, and/or related terms were mentioned, authors used sex and gender non-interchangeably in 16 (19.3%). No study met all three criteria. Criteria met did not vary according to study characteristics (p>.05). CONCLUSIONS:In SDM implementation studies, sex and gender terms and concepts are in a state of confusion. Our results suggest the urgency of adopting a standardized use of sex and gender terms and concepts before these considerations can be properly integrated into implementation research.