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Gender and Health

Details

  • 6 tables
  • Page extent: 274 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.41 kg

Paperback

 (ISBN-13: 9780521682800)

Chloe Bird and Patricia Rieker argue that to improve men's and women's health, individuals, researchers, and policymakers must understand the social and biological sources of the perplexing gender differences in illness and longevity. Although individuals are increasingly aware of what they should do to improve health, competing demands for time, money, and attention discourage or prevent healthy behavior. Drawing on research and cross-national examples of family, work, community, and government policies, the authors develop a model of constrained choice that addresses how decisions and actions at each of these levels shape men's and women's health-related opportunities. Understanding the cumulative impact of their choices can inform individuals at each of these levels how to better integrate health implications into their everyday decisions and actions. Their platform for prevention calls for a radical reorientation of health science and policy to help individuals pursue health and to lower the barriers that may discourage that pursuit.

• Introduces a model of constrained choice addressing decisions made at various levels to shape health-related opportunities • Examines the role of gender in health-care decisions made on individual, professional, family, community and government-policy levels • Synthesizes social science and biomedical research on men's/women's health, using cross-national research, data and policy examples

Contents

1. Gender differences in health: are they biological, social or both?; 2. Gender and barriers to health: constrained choice in everyday decisions; 3. National social policies and constrained choice; 4. The impact of community on health; 5. Priorities and expectations: men's and women's work, family life and health; 6. Gender and individual health choices; 7. Opportunities for change.

Reviews

'There is a growing body of international research on gender and health research, but much of it concerns either women or men and focuses on either social or biological factors in explanation. By overcoming these limitations, Chloe Bird and Patricia Rieker's 'constrained choice' approach is an excellent and timely framework for the analysis of the complex relationship between gender and health. Clearly written and supported by a wealth of research evidence, the book will be of great interest to both researchers and policy makers.' Ellen Annandale, University of Leicester

'What a valuable book! Bird and Rieker, two of the nation's premier thinkers on health policy, have sifted through the mountains of research on gender and health and separated the stereotypic from the statistically relevant. As America finally confronts its health care crisis, this will be the primer for policymakers and a significant contribution to the national conversation.' Michael Kimmel, SUNY Stony Brook

'Gender and Health: The Effects of Constrained Choices and Social Policies is an engaging, timely, and useful book about men's and women's health. In it, Bird and Rieker summarize the issues, their histories and relevant findings. They critique differing views and offer a synthesis useful to researchers, clinicians, policy makers and individuals making decisions about their own lives. Gender and Health avoids the polemical style of feminism and the aseptic style of medicine. It treats gender and health as a flesh-and-blood issue of real people in a real world defined by physical environments, social roles and strata, culture, and history, all interacting with human biology.' John Mirowsky, University of Texas, Austin

'Bird and Rieker have provided an important and timely contribution to understanding the differences in the health of men and women. The authors have synthesized a complex body of interdisciplinary evidence and provided a novel framework of 'constrained choice' to explain how gender is related health. Their writing is accessible both to seasoned researchers and to general readers.' Carol Weisman, Pennsylvania State University

'Bird and Rieker make explicit the assumptions on which they build their model of constrained choice. … This formulated analysis has a major implication for health policy: if social policy, community, work, and family constraints on individuals' choices about health-related matters were reduced, especially with respect to their sex biases, then sex-based disparities in health might diminish. The analysis likewise has a major implication for clinical practice: physicians should not assume that responsibility for a patient's current health status is reducible simply to that patient's choices, as if those choices were free of potent social constraints.' Journal of the American Medical Association

'Gender and Health does not provide answers to the questions posed. Rather, the authors challenge their readers to adopt a broader perspective in their approach to the formulation and evaluation of social policy, the conduct of research, and the provision of patient care through an integrated consideration of the biological and social dimensions of gender.' New England Journal of Medicine

'This volume is clearly written, well organized, and well referenced. … Libraries will find this to be a useful acquisition in support of health sciences/public health, gender studies, or public policy programs. … Recommended.' Choice

'I recommend this well-referenced, concise, authentic, readable, informative and thought-provoking book, not only to researchers and policy makers but also to public health practitioners worldwide.' Public Health

'Gender and Health is an ambitious book with multiple aims and multiple intended audiences. … The authors' attention to macrolevel influences on health outcomes - in the form of social policies, local social and built environments, and workplace conditions - is important and salutary.' Contemporary Sociology

'This book has a number of strengths. The authors present an up-to-date examination of current research and use a zoom-in, zoom-out approach, going from individuals to international policies (and back again). They offer an innovative conceptual framework rooted in sociological theories that include rational choice and life course perspectives. Virtually no stone is left unturned in their examination of the gender paradox; the coverage is encyclopedic. … this book is a must-read for policy analysts, public health planners, researchers from diverse fields, and anyone interested in gender and health disparities.' Social Service Review

'… the text represents a useful addition to the field, particularly in relation to the careful attention paid to the real choices open to men and women, and the constraints placed on these by gender roles, families, work and environmental factors, and policy. Bird and Rieker offer key insights into the reasons why simple health promotion messages often fail, and as such this text is essential reading for policy makers as well as academics interested in explanations of gender inequalities in health. The book would also be of value for those teaching gender and health and for students taking courses relating to wider health equalities and public health policy.' Sex Roles

'Bird and Rieker move us beyond the stereotypes about men and women's bodies and minds. They argue that examining the ways in which specific biological differences interact with the daily lives of men and women that are constrained in gender-based ways, can help us to improve both women's and men's lives. They draw upon the basic feminist sociological insight that while biological sex differences between men and women are very small, and men's and women's bodies are far more similar than they are different, we live in a gendered society, where our daily lives, experiences, responsibilities and opportunities are shaped at every level by gender, whether consciously or not.' Huffington Post

'… the synthesis of knowledge presented in this book, coming from diverse fields, is quite refreshing, and it certainly makes a significant attempt to replace narrow views. The volume is clearly written, well organized, and supported by a wealth of research evidence. The book provides an important and timely contribution to the understanding of some of the differences in health of men and women. Researchers, policy makers, and individuals who want to understand the ways in which differences in women's and men's social lives and physiology contribute to the differences in their health will benefit from this book.' Gender and Society

'This book is clearly written, giving depth and meaning to the complexity of gender differences in health while acknowledging diversity among women and men. The key argument - that gender differences in health can best be explained through the coordinated study of social and biological factors and that social constraints affect life choices and individuals' susceptibility to chronic conditions - seems eminently reasonable and sensible. … I would … defy anyone to come away from reading this important volume thinking that gender does not matter in the dialogue about health and its determinants.' Health Sociology

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