Gender Matters

An Integrated Model for Understanding Men's and Women's Health

Published in: Social Science and Medicine, v. 48, no. 6, 1999, p. 745-755

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1999

by Chloe E. Bird, Patricia P. Rieker

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Health research has failed to adequately explore the combination of social and biological sources of differences it men's and women's health. Consequently, scientific explanations often proceed from reductionist assumptions that differences are either purely biological or purely social. Such assumptions and the models that are built on then have consequences for research, health care and policy. Although biological factors such as genetics, prenatal hormone exposure and natural hormonal exposure as adults may contribute to differences in men's and women's health, a wide range of social processes can create, maintain or exacerbate underlying biological health differences. Researchers, clinicians and policy makers would understand and address both sex-specific and non-sex-specific health problems differently if the social as well as biological sources of differences in men's and women's health were better understood.

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