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      A Conceptual Muddle: An Empirical Analysis of the Use of ‘Sex’ and ‘Gender’ in ‘Gender-Specific Medicine’ Journals

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      1 , * , 2 , 3
      PLoS ONE
      Public Library of Science

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          Abstract

          Background

          At the same time as there is increasing awareness in medicine of the risks of exaggerating differences between men and women, there is a growing professional movement of ‘gender-specific medicine’ which is directed towards analysing ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ differences. The aim of this article is to empirically explore how the concepts of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are used in the new field of ‘gender-specific medicine’, as reflected in two medical journals which are foundational to this relatively new field.

          Method and Principal Findings

          The data consist of all articles from the first issue of each journal in 2004 and an issue published three years later (n = 43). In addition, all editorials over this period were included (n = 61). Quantitative and qualitative content analyses were undertaken by the authors.

          Less than half of the 104 papers used the concepts of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. Less than 1 in 10 papers attempted any definition of the concepts. Overall, the given definitions were simple, unspecific and created dualisms between men and women. Almost all papers which used the two concepts did so interchangeably, with any possible interplay between ‘sex’ and gender’ referred to only in six of the papers.

          Conclusion

          The use of the concepts of ‘sex’ and gender’ in ‘gender-specific medicine’ is conceptually muddled. The simple, dualistic and individualised use of these concepts increases the risk of essentialism and reductivist thinking. It therefore highlights the need to clarify the use of the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ in medical research and to develop more effective ways of conceptualising the interplay between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ in relation to different diseases.

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          Most cited references53

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          Qualitative evaluation and research methods

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            The Bare Bones of Sex: Part 1—Sex and Gender

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              Sex, gender, and health: the need for a new approach.

              L Doyal (2001)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2012
                18 April 2012
                : 7
                : 4
                : e34193
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies in Medicine, Research Project Challenging Gender, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
                [2 ]Department of Sociology, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
                [3 ]Umeå Centre for Gender Studies in Medicine, Research Project Challenging Gender, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
                University of British Columbia, Canada
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: AH EA. Performed the experiments: AH EA. Analyzed the data: AH EA. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: AH EA. Wrote the paper: AH EA.

                Article
                PONE-D-11-11737
                10.1371/journal.pone.0034193
                3329526
                22529907
                16836662-34ba-47c3-bf77-179b111cbb97
                Hammarström, Annandale. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                History
                : 23 June 2011
                : 28 February 2012
                Page count
                Pages: 8
                Categories
                Research Article
                Medicine
                Non-Clinical Medicine
                Health Care Policy
                Sexual and Gender Issues
                Health Care Providers
                Health Services Research
                Medical Sociology
                Science Policy
                Research Assessment
                Research Monitoring
                Science Education
                Social and Behavioral Sciences
                Sociology
                Sexual and Gender Issues

                Uncategorized
                Uncategorized

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