SCIENCES

Diagnosis Female: How Medical Bias Endangers Women’s Health

Rowman & Littlefield. Oct. 2019. 232p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781538114469. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781538114476. HEALTH
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Prior to 1993, women were excluded from participating in medical research as case study subjects, just one piece of shocking information discovered in this work by food and health journalist Dwass. The author combines her experience of being diagnosed with a benign brain tumor after years of living with a misdiagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome with interviews with other women who have survived major health scares and dismissal of their symptoms by physicians. She notes several areas of specialty—neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, and chronic diseases—to detail women’s struggles, and how they navigate physician egos, gender and racial bias, and symptoms classified as anxiety or panic attacks. Advocating for more female doctors, particularly more African American female physicians (currently only two percent of U.S. doctors are black women), Dwass also emphasizes the salary gap in medicine, with women earning 26.5 percent less than men. The patient narratives throughout are compelling, but the book could have used more discussion about how women can negotiate better care.
VERDICT A solid addition to the growing field of female patient advocacy narratives, such as Maya Dusenbery’s Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick and Abby Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest To Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain.

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