In last week’s blog entry, we examined the statistics of women in leadership positions in academic medicine. Part two of this entry points to the concept of focusing on gender-based medicine.
While the realm of women’s professional equality in medicine has yet to drastically improve, other aspects of medicine are changing to incorporate more diversity and gender-based care. In the past women’s health was often viewed simply as reproductive health and it was aligned with gynecology and obstetrics. Today’s focus on gender-based medicine “capitalizes on what research has discovered is unique about women and applies that knowledge to our understanding of both sexes,” as noted in the Office on Women’s Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ literature review on effective sex- and gender-based systems/models of care. According to one researcher, the mission of gender-based medicine is “to promote research that uses biological sex as an important variable in constructing scientific protocols.” Incorporating the differences between men and women physiologically, anatomically, genetically, biochemically, etc., into research will provide a new breadth of information on health and pathological processes. Using this medical research to develop best practices for the sex-specific care of patients provides a new means of improving the entire delivery of health care. In addition, researching the gender-based psychosocial aspects of health care will lead to higher patient satisfaction, lower costs, and improved preventive screenings. For example, by highlighting the communication differences between men and women, a gender-based approach to fostering a patient-physician relationship can be developed. With an understanding of how women communicate and disclose personal health information as compared to men, more care can be taken to develop strategies that enhance information exchange and the doctor-patient bond.
In conclusion, it’s important that incorporating diversity and equality among sexes remain a priority in the medical profession, as well as a consideration of how a focus on gender-based medicine can improve the delivery of health care and more importantly the scientific basis of medicine.