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
Department of General Practice, Unit 'Gender and Health' Academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam Amsterdam
Research School Psychology and Health Utrecht University Utrecht The Netherlands
February 1, 2004