It is not surprising there is a gender pain gap given the distinct under-researching of womens’ health and the implications this has for medical education and training. In the book Invisible Women, Caroline Criado-Perez points out that it has been historically assumed that there wasn’t anything fundamentally different between male and female bodies other than size and reproductive function - so for years medical education has been focused on a male “norm”.
The doctor-patient relationship is a fiduciary one which means it is based on mutual trust and respect being a core component of good care. The more barriers there are to understanding each other, the greater the risk to quality of care. But many women do face significant barriers as a result of the gender pain gap. These include a lack of understanding of female specific health concerns and a lack of awareness of sex-based differences in the way non-gendered health issues, such as heart attacks, are experienced. Consequently women are more likely to be misdiagnosed or poorly cared for, which detrimentally impacts their health, wellbeing and life expectancy. The impacts can be disastrous. A 2016 study found that women were 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed following a heart attack.
On today’s episode we will be speaking with Dr. Jennifer Peña who is former physician to the White House Medical Unit, internal medicine doctor, Army vet, and a trailblazer in digital and telehealth. Dr. Peña will unpack the issue of gender inequality in medicine and how we can tackle this.