When it comes to the healthcare industry, gender bias continues to be an area for improvement. From doctors to patients, anyone can hold biased views about gender. Many times, this happens unwillingly. However, this doesn’t make it right.
1. Understand What Gender Bias Is
Unfortunately, gender bias in the healthcare field is prevalent. The views held by researchers, doctors, and administrators affect how the healthcare system works. This directly affects the treatment of patients.
A great first step to preventing gender bias is understanding what gender bias is. Your direct primary care provider should give you the same treatment regardless if you’re a man or a woman. Gender bias in healthcare occurs when doctors or nurses dismiss symptoms because of gender.
A 2018 study found that doctors often view men with chronic pain as being “brave” or “stoic,” while women with chronic pain were viewed as being “emotional” or “hysterical.” With these internalized perceptions of pain, the medical treatments differ based on gender.
Healthcare workers can prevent these misconceptions from happening by asking open-ended questions like, “How are you feeling?” or “Am I missing anything that’s important for us to talk about?”. They can also use a computerized checklist to ensure every patient is undergoing the same evaluation when asking about risk factors. This will ensure the patient’s needs are being met while preventing gender bias.
2. Hold Yourself and Others Accountable
If you feel you’re not being treated fairly because of your gender, make this known to your healthcare provider. Women often experience chronic pain at a higher rate than men; however, the pain they feel is not always treated as seriously as men’s.
When this is the case, make how you’re feeling known. It’s recommended that patients set up a pain management plan with their doctor. It’s also recommended to bring in an advocate who can vouch for their pain in the event they’re not being heard. These extra steps are necessary to ensure these groups receive adequate treatment in healthcare.
If things don’t improve, switch providers. Explain that you’re not receiving the care you deserve and believe it’s due to gender bias. Give specific examples.
Likewise, if you’re a healthcare provider and notice any type of bias, speak up. This will encourage discussion in a positive manner. Don’t address the individual by putting them on the spot. Instead, make this conversation a part of your team huddle.
3. Incorporate Women Into Medical Research Studies
Medical research studies pertaining to diseases and their treatments are often skewed. Sadly, most research studies are heavily saturated with male participants. This becomes a deadly problem because it’s not alleviating women’s health issues.
Putting an emphasis on incorporating women into these medical research studies will help alleviate some of the gender bias rampant in this field. This will also help ensure that women are evaluated and treated properly.
4. If You’re the Patient, Bring in an Advocate
To minimize gender bias and make sure patients are receiving adequate healthcare, a few steps can be taken. For instance, you can bring in an advocate. They can help you decide whether you should obtain a second opinion from a different doctor or if your needs aren’t being met properly.
Great advocates are also those that have gone through similar illnesses. They can offer helpful advice that you wouldn’t have thought about beforehand.
Every individual should have the right to receive proper medical care, so it’s important to speak up in the event of discrimination when receiving medical treatment. Keeping these four tips in mind is a great way to prevent gender bias and give everyone the care they deserve.