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Gender-sensitive epidemiological research: suggestions for a gender-sensitive approach towards problem definition, data collection and analysis in epidemiological research

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In this article we examine the importance of applying a gender-sensitive approach in epidemiological research and the way in which such an approach can be effected. After a brief investigation into the meaning of the variable 'sex' we will show that this meaning is not systematically addressed in epidemiological research. Even if a gender-conscious problem definition is achieved, many methodological hurdles still loom ahead. First, the data acquisition must take place gender-sensitively--this involves the selection of population and measurement instruments, the operationalization of indicators and the screening of possible professional bias. Secondly, the analysis should systematically pay attention to possible sex and gender differences in risk profiles and should not regard sex as a determinant but as a category, comprizing biological, psychological and social-cultural factors that together determine the status of a person's health. Given the interaction of these factors it is plausible that health problems, even if they are biologically the same, should be understood and treated differently in men and women.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of General Practice, Unit 'Gender and Health' Academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam Amsterdam 2: Research School Psychology and Health Utrecht University Utrecht The Netherlands

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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