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Women Health. 2004;40(1):101-21.

Gender-biased diagnosing of women's medical complaints:contributions of feminist thought, 1970-1995.

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  • School of Social Work, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 536 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. smunch@rci.rutgers.edu


With the advent of second-wave feminism during the 1970s, a significant body of literature emerged describing sexist practices in women's health care. Gender-biased diagnosing-the notion that somatic complaints by female medical patients are more likely to be labeled by physicians as psychosomatic-became a concern that garnered considerable attention in Europe and the United States because of the increased health risks it posed for women. This article examines the impact of feminist knowledge on this topic during the quarter century spanning 1970-1995. Analysis of the literature reveals feminist perspectives played a critical role in uncovering and problematizing gender bias in women's health care.

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