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Patient Educ Couns. 2011 Aug;84(2):143-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2010.07.016. Epub 2010 Aug 17.

Bringing gender sensitivity into healthcare practice: a systematic review.

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  • 1Department of Health, Ethics and Society, School for Public Health and Primary Care, CAPHRI, Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, The Netherlands; Simons & Partners Law Firm, Gulpen, The Netherlands.



Despite the body of literature on gender dimensions and disparities between the sexes in health, practical improvements will not be realized effectively as long as we lack an overview of the ways how to implement these ideas. This systematic review provides a content analysis of literature on the implementation of gender sensitivity in health care.


Literature was identified from CINAHL, PsycINFO, Medline, EBSCO and Cochrane (1998-2008) and the reference lists of relevant articles. The quality and relevance of 752 articles were assessed and finally 11 original studies were included.


Our results demonstrate that the implementation of gender sensitivity includes tailoring opportunities and barriers related to the professional, organizational and the policy level. As gender disparities are embedded in healthcare, a multiple track approach to implement gender sensitivity is needed to change gendered healthcare systems.


Conventional approaches, taking into account one barrier and/or opportunity, fail to prevent gender inequality in health care. For gender-sensitive health care we need to change systems and structures, but also to enhance understanding, raise awareness and develop skills among health professionals.


To bring gender sensitivity into healthcare practice, interventions should address a range of factors.

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