Gender discrimination could be seriously impacting female health, campaigners warn – as over half of women fear they have been misdiagnosed following a visit to a healthcare professional.
Nearly half (49%) of 2,000 women polled claim they were not listened to properly by medical experts, with over a fifth of these (22%) blaming their gender.
And nearly a quarter (23%) suspect they received a wrong diagnosis due to a lack of female medical research – a concern echoed by best-selling author and podcaster Emma Gannon.
Emma said: “Medical research focusing mainly on men is damaging women’s health, resulting in misdiagnoses and potentially threatening lives.
“There is simply not enough data or research available still, which is causing women to not feel understood and heard in the context of their bodies.
“Most doctors really do work hard to help as much as they can, but the data and knowledge hasn't caught up yet, and this gender data gap is at the root of systemic discrimination against women.”
The research was commissioned by digital healthcare platform Livi, which teamed up with Emma Gannon to release a free eBook, “Miss Diagnosed: the health handbook every woman (and man) should read”.
This also found that, of the women who believe they have been misdiagnosed, nearly one in three (29%) still don’t think they’ve received the correct diagnosis.
And alarmingly, for more than a quarter (26%), these were life-altering or -threatening conditions.
Dr Bryony Henderson, the lead GP for the service, said: “Despite our differences in physiology and genetic make-up, collective research suggests there is still a wide gap in knowledge on how medical conditions affect men and women differently.
“And this lack of education can result in women receiving poorer medical advice.
“Until about 25 years ago, almost all medical research was carried out exclusively on men, and so we still have a lot of catching up to do.
“Digital healthcare has a huge role to play in closing the gender health gap, which is why we have used our knowledge to create a free eBook as a resource to help towards doing so.”
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The research also revealed the extent of the impact of a misdiagnosis – with 42% saying their mental health was impacted as a result.
More than a third (34%) claimed it was damaging to their relationships with partners, friends, or family – and 18% believe their misdiagnosis was detrimental to their sex life.
What’s more, over one in four women (28%) don’t believe doctors are properly trained in all aspects of women’s health.
The study, by Livi, found the biggest health concerns for women included mental health, menopause and menstruation – while many are also concerned about pregnancy and infertility.
Dr Bryony Henderson, who is also part of the programme offering training to more than 10,000 doctors, added: “In response to these findings, we are strengthening our commitment to providing specialist women’s health training.
“This will cover themes such as menstruation and menopause, not only to our own GPs, but to thousands more doctors across the UK.”
The free eBook, “Miss Diagnosed: the health handbook every woman (and man) should read”, is available to download from here.
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