Psychosocial Concerns while Treating Women: A Comprehensive Overview
In the realm of women's health and reproductive medicine, the focus extends far beyond the mere physiology and pathology of the female body. It encompasses a complex interplay of physiological, psychological, and social factors that significantly influence the onset and outcome of diseases and conditions affecting women. Understanding and promoting women's health across the lifespan necessitates a holistic approach that recognizes the pivotal role played by psychosocial concerns. In this article, we delve deep into the psychosocial aspects of treating women, shedding light on the expectations, challenges, and unique considerations that healthcare providers must consider.
Psychosocial Aspects of Treating Women
Listening and Understanding
Women seeking healthcare services expect more than just a clinical evaluation of their signs and symptoms. They desire healthcare providers who will truly listen to their condition descriptions. This human touch goes a long way in establishing trust and rapport between patients and providers.
Clarity in Communication
Clarity is paramount when communicating with women about their conditions and treatment plans. Women often seek clear and comprehensive answers regarding the cause of their ailments and the proposed treatment strategies. This transparency empowers them to make informed decisions about their health.
Internalization of Distress
Research suggests that women tend to internalize their response to distress, which can lead to a higher prevalence of conditions such as depression and anxiety. Healthcare providers must be attuned to these psychological aspects, recognizing the potential need for mental health support alongside medical treatment.
Psychological Aspects of Treating Women
The Role of Social Support
Social support plays a crucial role in promoting health and aiding in recovery, irrespective of gender. However, women's social support systems often undergo significant changes during key reproductive transitions, such as puberty, childbearing, and menopause. This shifting landscape necessitates a tailored approach to address the evolving needs of women.
Multiple Role Strain
Many women juggle multiple roles, often simultaneously, each with its responsibilities. Balancing societal expectations with personal goals can lead to conflict and stress. Recognizing and addressing this role strain is essential for ensuring women's overall well-being.
Socioeconomic Status and Health
It is essential to acknowledge the impact of socioeconomic status on women's health. Women with lower socioeconomic status often face challenges such as inadequate nutrition and limited time for self-care. These factors can contribute to social distress, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and even domestic violence, all of which adversely affect physical health.
Psychosocial Concerns and Mental Health
The Burden of Depression
Depression is a prevalent mental health concern, affecting approximately 21% of women. It is associated with poorer health outcomes and longer durations of concomitant illnesses or disorders. Depression can manifest in various ways, including difficulty with concentration, impaired cognition, and reduced endurance.
Disturbingly, women and girls are three to four times more likely to attempt suicide than men and boys. This underscores the importance of early detection and intervention for mental health issues in women.
Postpartum depression is a specific form of depression that affects women after childbirth. With an incidence of 15% after delivery, it is a significant concern that cuts across ethnic groups. Early recognition and support are critical in managing this condition.
Psychosocial Concerns and Pain
Pain and Women's Biological Events
Normal biological events in a woman's life, such as menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, are often associated with pain. Women who experience depression are at an increased risk of developing pelvic pain, including painful intercourse, excessively painful menstruation, and non-cyclical pelvic pain.
Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence
Substance Abuse Trends
While substance abuse and addiction are generally less common in women, certain factors increase the prevalence, such as being victims of violence or suffering from chronic pain. Notably, tobacco smoking among women and girls has been steadily increasing.
Domestic Violence as a Public Health Emergency
Domestic violence is a pressing concern and is considered by many to be a public health emergency. It is the leading cause of injury to women, often resulting in fatalities. Shockingly, up to 23% of pregnant women seeking prenatal care report being victims of domestic abuse.
As specialists in women's health, we are responsible for reviewing and comprehending the spectrum of psychosocial concerns that affect women's well-being. This knowledge equips us to provide the highest quality of care, addressing not only the physical aspects but also the psychological and social factors that play pivotal roles in women's health. By acknowledging and addressing these concerns, we can ensure that women receive the holistic care they deserve, promoting their overall health and well-being.
Irion, Jean M., and Irion, Glenn. Women's Health in Physical Therapy. Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010.
Author: Khushali Trivedi, PT, DPT, MS
Author Bio: Khushali Trivedi, PT, DPT, MS, is a Ph.D. student at Texas Woman’s University and works at Fox Rehab in New Jersey. She is a women’s health activist, and she is fighting for healthcare equality through VediKh Care (NGO).