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Gender and Health
The Effects of Constrained Choices and Social Policies

£52.00

  • Date Published: May 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521864152

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About the Authors
  • Chloe Bird and Patricia Rieker argue that to improve men's and women's health, individuals, researchers, and policymakers must understand the social and biological sources of the perplexing gender differences in illness and longevity. Although individuals are increasingly aware of what they should do to improve health, competing demands for time, money, and attention discourage or prevent healthy behavior. Drawing on research and cross-national examples of family, work, community, and government policies, the authors develop a model of constrained choice that addresses how decisions and actions at each of these levels shape men's and women's health-related opportunities. Understanding the cumulative impact of their choices can inform individuals at each of these levels how to better integrate health implications into their everyday decisions and actions. Their platform for prevention calls for a radical reorientation of health science and policy to help individuals pursue health and to lower the barriers that may discourage that pursuit.

    • Introduces a model of constrained choice addressing decisions made at various levels to shape health-related opportunities
    • Examines the role of gender in health-care decisions made on individual, professional, family, community and government-policy levels
    • Synthesizes social science and biomedical research on men's/women's health, using cross-national research, data and policy examples
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'There is a growing body of international research on gender and health research, but much of it concerns either women or men and focuses on either social or biological factors in explanation. By overcoming these limitations, Chloe Bird and Patricia Rieker's 'constrained choice' approach is an excellent and timely framework for the analysis of the complex relationship between gender and health. Clearly written and supported by a wealth of research evidence, the book will be of great interest to both researchers and policy makers.' Ellen Annandale, University of Leicester

    'What a valuable book! Bird and Rieker, two of the nation's premier thinkers on health policy, have sifted through the mountains of research on gender and health and separated the stereotypic from the statistically relevant. As America finally confronts its health care crisis, this will be the primer for policymakers and a significant contribution to the national conversation.' Michael Kimmel, SUNY Stony Brook

    'Gender and Health: The Effects of Constrained Choices and Social Policies is an engaging, timely, and useful book about men's and women's health. In it, Bird and Rieker summarize the issues, their histories and relevant findings. They critique differing views and offer a synthesis useful to researchers, clinicians, policy makers and individuals making decisions about their own lives. Gender and Health avoids the polemical style of feminism and the aseptic style of medicine. It treats gender and health as a flesh-and-blood issue of real people in a real world defined by physical environments, social roles and strata, culture, and history, all interacting with human biology.' John Mirowsky, University of Texas, Austin

    'Bird and Rieker have provided an important and timely contribution to understanding the differences in the health of men and women. The authors have synthesized a complex body of interdisciplinary evidence and provided a novel framework of 'constrained choice' to explain how gender is related health. Their writing is accessible both to seasoned researchers and to general readers.' Carol Weisman, Pennsylvania State University

    'Bird and Rieker make explicit the assumptions on which they build their model of constrained choice. … This formulated analysis has a major implication for health policy: if social policy, community, work, and family constraints on individuals' choices about health-related matters were reduced, especially with respect to their sex biases, then sex-based disparities in health might diminish. The analysis likewise has a major implication for clinical practice: physicians should not assume that responsibility for a patient's current health status is reducible simply to that patient's choices, as if those choices were free of potent social constraints.' Journal of the American Medical Association

    'Gender and Health does not provide answers to the questions posed. Rather, the authors challenge their readers to adopt a broader perspective in their approach to the formulation and evaluation of social policy, the conduct of research, and the provision of patient care through an integrated consideration of the biological and social dimensions of gender.' New England Journal of Medicine

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521864152
    • length: 274 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • contains: 6 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Gender differences in health: are they biological, social or both?
    2. Gender and barriers to health: constrained choice in everyday decisions
    3. National social policies and constrained choice
    4. The impact of community on health
    5. Priorities and expectations: men's and women's work, family life and health
    6. Gender and individual health choices
    7. Opportunities for change.

  • Authors

    Chloe E. Bird, RAND Corporation, RAND Graduate School
    Chloe E. Bird, PhD, is a Senior Sociologist at RAND, Professor of Sociology at the Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School, Associate Editor of Women's Health Issues and the immediate past Chair of the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association. Her research focuses on assessing the determinants of gender and racial/ethnic differences in the physical and mental health of individuals and in the health care they receive. Dr Bird has led numerous NIH-funded studies on gender and racial/ethnic differences in health and health care and on neighborhood effects on health. In current work, she is exploring how characteristics of a neighborhood's social and built environment contribute to the health of men and women and to racial/ethnic disparities in health. This interdisciplinary work is intended to help target interventions to reduce health disparities. Dr Bird has published in a wide range of journals and has co-authored numerous book chapters and reports, including two recent reports for the Office of Women's Health. In 1995, Dr Bird received the Elliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award from the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association. Her work has repeatedly been recognized among the most outstanding abstracts at the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting; in 2006, she was awarded a month-long collaborative residency by the Rockefeller Foundation to work at their Bellagio Center in Italy.

    Patricia P. Rieker, Boston University, Harvard Medical School, Simmons College
    Patricia P. Rieker is Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Boston University, Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Sociology) at Harvard Medical School, and Emeritus Professor at Simmons College, Boston. She was formerly the Director of Psychosocial Research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, where her research focused on health care outcomes for men with genitourinary cancers. Dr Rieker is also an evaluation research consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has worked with the Research Triangle Institute, the National Office of the American Cancer Society and National Women's Resource Center, and SAMHSA. Among her numerous publications are several co-edited books: The Gender Gap in Psychotherapy: Social Realities and Psychological Processes and Mental Health: Racism and Sexism (which was named an Outstanding Book by the Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America). Her current research interests include cross-national comparisons of gender and health, the determinants of health care outcomes, and evaluation research capacity building.

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