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Defining and measuring gender: A social determinant of health whose time has come

Author(s): Phillips Susan

Journal: International Journal for Equity in Health
ISSN 1475-9276

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 11;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: gender | women's health | social determinants | longevity

Abstract This paper contributes to a nascent scholarly discussion of sex and gender as determinants of health. Health is a composite of biological makeup and socioeconomic circumstances. Differences in health and illness patterns of men and women are attributable both to sex, or biology, and to gender, that is, social factors such as powerlessness, access to resources, and constrained roles. Using examples such as the greater life expectancy of women in most of the world, despite their relative social disadvantage, and the disproportionate risk of myocardial infarction amongst men, but death from MI amongst women, the independent and combined associations of sex and gender on health are explored. A model for incorporating gender into epidemiologic analyses is proposed.
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