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chapter11 women.odt

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York University
PSYC 3480
Noreen Stuckless

Chapter 11 – health psychology: an interdisciplinary area in psychology that focuses on causes of illness, the treatment of illness, illness prevention, and health improvement 3 major reasons why these health problems are important: 1) Gender makes a difference in the kinds of health problems that people experience 2) Gender makes a difference in the way a disease is diagnosed, viewed and treated. When health care providers diagnose a disease they often consider the disease symptoms that occur in males as normative or standard. Women's diseases are often considered deviations from the norm. Men are often more likely to be treated for certain heart problems 3) Illness is an important part of many women's experiences, chronic health problem is long lasting and cannot be completely cured The healthcare and health status of women Biases against women – the medical profession has consistently been biased against women – both women and physicians and women patients have often been mistreated – the medical profession and health care system show several biases against women patients – women have been neglected in medicine and in medical research – the male body has been considered normative and it serves as a standard – medical experts have often assumed that women are basically identical to men, except that they are smaller and of course they have different reproductive processes – health care providers decisions about women's health may be based on research that does not represent women – medical schools are now more likely to emphasize women's health as part of the regular curriculum – gender stereotypes are common in medicine – many physicians do not consider women's complaints to be as serious as mens – physicians may believe that women are more emotional than men or that women cannot understand information about their medical problems – gender stereotypes keep women from receiving appropriate medical treatment – medical care provided to women is often inadequate or irresponsible – women sometimes receive too much healthcare, but sometimes they receive too little – some surgical procedures are performed too often – caesarian sections are performed too often , as well as hysterectomies – breast cancer patients often receive complete mastectomies, when much less invasive procedures would be just as effective – when we consider diseases that affect both men and women, the women often receive too little healthcare – women are less likely to receive diagnostic testing or surgical treatment for the same severity of coronary heart disease – physician patient communication patterns often make women feel relatively powerless – when the man is a physician and the woman is the patient women may feel especially powerless to speak – women are more likely to report their physicians didn't listen to them and talked down to them Gender Comparisons in Life Expectancy – small, but consistent gender gap in life expectancy for three groups of people in NorthAmerica – women live about 5 years longer than men do – the gender gap also occurs in virtually every country in the world – Why? Biological, social, and environmental factors – females second X chromosome may protect them from some health problems – gender differences in high risk activities are also likely – men are more likely to die from suicide, homicide, and motor vehicle accidents – more men are exposed to dangerous conditions at work – women visit their health care providers more often than men do – women may be more sensitive to internal signs that might foreshadow health problems – the male gender role encourages men to be physically tough, rarely complaining about minor symptoms – women may consult physicians during the early stage of disease, before it becomes fatal Gender Comparisons in Overall Health – women in both U.s and Canada have a disadvantage with repsect to morbidity, which is defined as generalized poor health or illness – women are more likely than men to have problems such as, obesity, anemia, and respiratory illness – women are also more likely to experience lifelong illnesses, headaches, and general fatigue – morbidity is usually assessed by self report and a woman may be more likely than a man to report that she is bothered by her health problem – economic factors also contribute to the gender differences – women are more likely to experience illness and poor health How Social Class Influence U.S Women's Health – social class can be measured in terms of a persons occupation, income, or education – no matter how social class is measured it is correlated with life expectancy and morbidity – one important factor in these correlations is the quality of healthcare – the lack of universal healthcare in the United States is largely responsible for two problems: the United Sates is a currently number 1 in the world in the amount of money spent per person on healthcare, but it is number 36 as far as life expectancy is concerned – men are more likely than women to have private insurance provided by employers; women are more likely to have either Medicaid insurance, which offers second class benefits- or no insurance at all – women of colour are especially likely to receive second class healthcare – native american women who live on a reservation are more likely than other women to die before the age of 45 – factors other than quality of a persons health insurance help to explain the influence of social class on both life expectancy and general health – low income housing is often constructed in locations with high levels of toxic materials – low income families often live in noisy, over crowded environments; these factors are associated with poor health – low income people are also more likely to experience negative emotions and stressful events – theses psychological factors can lead to heart diseases, as well as other health problems – any attempt to improve the healthcare system in the U.S- for both men and women- must emphasize both direct and indirect effects of social class Health Issues for Women in Developing Countries – in developing countries, women face severe biases than north america – many women in other countries do not need to be concerned about a health professional treating them in a biased manner because they will never meet a physician Lack of Access to Healthcare – when resources are scarce, females are especially likely to suffer – data gathered inAsia,Africa, and the Middle East demonstrate that parents are significantly more likely to seek medical care for a son than a daughter – in many developing countries, only the wealthiest females have access to medical care – females in developing countries typically have inadequate healthcare – they are also more than twice as likely to have too little to eat – women in developing countries also face relatively high chance of dying during pregnancy or childbirth Female Genital Mutilation – female genital mutilation involves cutting or removing a section of the female genitals, usually part or all of the clitoris – the labia minora are also removed and the labia majora are then stitched together – the more drastic procedure leaves only a tiny opening to allow both urine and menstrual blood to pass out of the body – male equivalent would require removal of entire penis and part of skin surrounding the testicles – genital mutilation clearly creates health problems for girls and women – the operation is extremely painful – it can cause severe blood loss and infections (often leading to death) damage to other organs, and difficulty during childbirth – also increases transmission of the HIV virus – Most of these women live inAfrica, Middle East, andAsia – usually done ages 4 and puberty – an older woman performs the operation, often using an unsterile piece of glass, razor blade or sharp rock – according to people in cultures that practice female genital mutilation, this procedure makes the genitals cleaner – people also believe that the operation reduces sexual activity outside of marriage – women experience less pleasure when the clitoris has been removed Cardiovascular Disease, Breast Cancer, and Other Specific Health Problems – women live longer but they experience more illness in their lifetime – cardiovascular disease affects women's lives because it is such a frequent cause of death Cardiovascular Disease – cardiovascular disease includes heart attacks and other disorders of the heart, as well as clots and other disorders of the blood vessels – major cause of death for U.S women – more deadly than all forms of cancer combined – many people think that heart disease is a man's illness, but this myth is not correct – men are likely to experience heart disease earlier than women do, but women run about the same risk by the time the reach 75 years of age – black women are more likely than white women to die of heart disease – men typically report chest pain when they are having a heart attack, women may report chest pain, but they also report symptoms such as breathlessness – health professionals may fail to recognize heart attacks in women if they are searching for classic male symptoms – men are more likely than women to receive diagnostic testing or surgical treatment for heart disease – men are twice as likely as women to receive bypass surgery, even when both genders have the same medical profile – we know relatively little about cardiac problems in women because researchers are more likely to study cardiac problems in men – women and men also behave differently after a heart attack – men typically reduce their household chores, whereas women tend to resume their household chores more quickly Breast Cancer – gender makes a difference in the way that certain diseases are viewed – many people don't associate heart disease with women – the one disease in women that receives widespread publicity is breast cancer – health psychologists are uncertain why medical researchers focus more on breast cancer than other illnesses that are actually more dangerous for women – one important factor is our cultures emphasis on breasts as an essential part of being a woman – black women are less likely than white women to develop breast cancer; however, they actually have a higher death rate from it – early detection of breast cancer is important because the chances of a cure are very high if the disease is diagnosed at an early stage – if you are a woman over the age of 20, you should examine your breasts at least once a month – women who are menstruating should examine their breasts about a week after their menstrual period is over because their breasts are likely to have normal lumps during menstruation – mammogram is an X ray of the breast- a picture of breast tissue- taken while the breast tissue is flattened between two plastic plates – women over the age of 50 are often encouraged to have a screening mammogram every year or two to detect lumps that are too small to detect by self examination – individual differences are larger, but women of colour often have especially low rates for mammogram screening – asian american women may be less likely to have mammograms for because they cannot speak English or do not have health insurance – manyAsian American women are taught from an early age not to discuss topics related to sexuality – latina women may also be reluctant to perform breast self examination or seek breast cancer screening – many women of mexican descent believe that it would be indecent for a healthcare provider to see their unclothed breasts – when breast cancer is in an early stage, the most common treatment is a lumpectomy- surgery that removes the cancerous lump and the immediate surrounding breast tissue – radiation therapy or chemotherapy might also be used – many women who survive cancer believe that the struggle helped them to reorder their priorities, by choosing a healthier lifestyle or valuing friendships more fully Reproductive System Cancer and Hysterectomies – cervical cancer affects the lower portion of the uterus – women seldom die from cervical cancer because of a highly accurate screening test called a PAP smear – in the PAP smear test the gynaecologist takes a sample of cells from the cervix to see whether they are normal, precancerous, or cancerous – when cervical cancer is detected early, it is highly curable – compared to EuropeanAmerican women, Latinas and other women of colour are more likely to die from cancer of the cervix- especially because they are less likely to have had this screening test – cancer of the cervix is one of the major causes of death, especially because women in developing countries do not have access to Pap smears – gender influences the way a disease is treated and a women's reproductive systems receive more attention than other health concerns – the best example of this is the principle the high rate of hysterectomies in the U.S – a hysterectomy is a surgical removal of a woman's uterus – many surgeons remove a woman's uterus when other less drastic treatments would be effective – some women report that the hysterectomy removed an important part of their identity as a woman – women need appropriate information about the alternatives before making decisions about whether they should have a hysterectomy – cancer of the ovaries has the highest rate of death of all gynaecological cancers, but receives little attention – there is currently no reliable, valid screening test for this disorder – the symptoms include abdominal cramping and vomiting – most ovarian cancers are not discovered until t
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