Invisible women?: the importance of gender in lay beliefs about heart problems

Emslie, C., Hunt, K. and Watt, G. (2001) Invisible women?: the importance of gender in lay beliefs about heart problems. Sociology of Health and Illness, 23(2), pp. 203-233. (doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.00248)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.00248

Abstract

Coronary heart disease (CHD) accounts for over a quarter of deaths in Britain, yet few qualitative studies have explored beliefs about 'heart problems' in the general population. A previous study of lay beliefs about coronary candidacy (or 'the kind of person who gets heart trouble') paid little attention to gender. However, semistructured interviews with 61 men and women reveal that gender plays a vital role in lay perceptions. Respondents' accounts of people who were likely 'candidates' for heart problems all centred on men. More surprisingly, their accounts of unlikely candidates also focused exclusively on men. Only when specifically asked about relatives, did respondents discuss women with heart problems. While accounts of male 'victims' focused on sudden, fatal heart attacks, accounts of women usually concentrated on longterm CHD morbidity. We argue that CHD continues to be perceived as a male disease and that women remain 'invisible' in discourses about heart disease.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hunt, Professor Kathryn and Emslie, Dr Carol and Watt, Professor Graham
Authors: Emslie, C., Hunt, K., and Watt, G.
Subjects:R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Centre for Population and Health Sciences
Journal Name:Sociology of Health and Illness
ISSN:0141-9889

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