Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2011


This research was aimed at exploring patient perspectives on the gender-politics of

doctor-patient relationship , finding the number of men and women who had

experienced psychosomatic diagnosis or misdiagnosis, and assessing the detrimental

health consequences of psychosomatic misdiagnosis by investigating patient

experiences. Thirty-nine respondents (13 men and 26 women) of ages ranging 18 to

71 completed open-ended questionnaires designed to gauge their relevant feelings

and experiences. Hypothesis was that findings would be indicative of gender-biased

diagnosing; that women would have significantly more reports of psychosomatic

diagnosis and misdiagnosis, more negative experiences with doctors, and more

experiences in which they physically suffered as a result of psychosomatic

misdiagnosis. This research found strong evidence of gender-biased diagnosing. It

also found that 1) many women reported experiencing sex discrimination in a

doctor-patient relationship, and over half of women had discontinued seeing a

doctor for this reason, 2) a small phenomenon of "doing credibility" was found in

that patients, mostly female, reported downplaying severity of symptoms in dialog

with their doctor in fear of complaining or appearing "irrational," and 3) women

were found to suffer traumatic and health-crippling experiences, sometimes ending

up in the emergency room needing surgery or suffering for years with debilitating

undiagnosed medical conditions, as a direct consequence of their symptoms being

mislabeled as psychosomatic.

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