Gender of the care environment: influence on recovery in women with heart disease

A Kirsten Woodend, Gerald M Devins
Canadian Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing 2005, 15 (3): 21-31

UNLABELLED: Women experience higher levels of distress than men (depression, anxiety, poor quality of life) after a first myocardial infarction. Sex differences in distress are not present in predominantly female diseases such as arthritis. This study explored the possibility that the predominantly male treatment environment for heart disease accounted for some of the sex differences in distress.

METHODS: Men and women who had experienced a first-MI were asked to complete the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), a modified version of the Moos Ward Atmosphere Scale (WAS) and measures of illness intrusiveness, depression, anxiety and quality of life. Gender syntony was defined as a match between patient gender (BSRI) and the perceived gender of the treatment environment (WAS).

RESULTS: Women experienced higher levels of distress than men and were more likely to experience discordance between their gender and the perceived gender of the care environment (73% of women versus 32% of men). The presence of gender dystony (a mismatch between gender and treatment environment) was related to higher levels of illness intrusiveness and overall distress.

CONCLUSIONS: Modification of the heart disease treatment environment so that it better meets the needs of women may reduce sex differences in distress.

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