Gendered experiences of health care

Patricia M. Pittman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Scopus citations


    Objective. To develop a method capable of bringing to light gender specific problems in the social interaction between providers and clients, and in so doing, contribute to improving quality of care for both sexes in five primary health care centers in Argentina. Design. A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Texts were processed in a database and analyzed using a formal method of discourse called Semiotics of Statements. Male and female clients' ideas on perceived causes of illnesses and health care needs were compared, following which providers' perceptions on the same issues were then contrasted. Problems in quality of care were suggested when: (i) differences in perceptions and/or values between providers and either male or female clients were observed; and (ii) similarities in values revealed reinforcement of traditional gender roles. Setting. Public sector care provided to urban poor with hypertension and diabetes mellitus type 2 in five clinics in Avellaneda, A rgentina. Participants were clients identified through community organizations (n = 27), and all physicians from these clinics (n=10), 60% of nurses (n=6) and 80% of receptionists (n=4) were interviewed. Results. Providers' views differed from women's in regard to: (i) the degree of individual responsibility (risky behavior) in disease causation; (ii) legitimacy of the reasons many women seek care; (iii) function of talk in the consultation; (iv) effects of chastisement; and (v) relevance of domestic violence. In addition, a series of shared values were identified that reinforce traditional gender roles, including situations detrimental to men's health. Conclusion. The method permitted identification of subjective issues relating to social interaction that could not have been accessed with other approaches, and that had practical implications for providers, as well as managers, policy-makers, educators and patient advocates.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)397-405
    Number of pages9
    JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Oct 1999


    • Argentina
    • Diabetes
    • Gender
    • Hypertension
    • Quality of care

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health Policy
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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