Research Article| Volume 20, ISSUE 8, P787-792, July 1998

Changing Concepts of Women’s Health—What does this mean for Obstetrics and Gynaecology?

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      Over the past decade, increased attention has focused on the topic of women’s health. Traditionally, women’s health was considered to encompass only reproductive health and health care. Currently, however, women’s health is defined as involving women’s social, cultural, spiritual, emotional and physical well-being, and is influenced by social, political and economic factors, as well as by a woman’s biology. Therefore, in providing health care to women, one must address not only their biology and their reproductive functions but also the broader determinants of health and in particular the critical role of gender as a determinant of health. The health priorities women themselves identify, their own perceptions of their health and well-being and the diversity of women are all key components of optimal care for women. While obstetricians and gynaecologists have played a leading role in improving reproductive and gynaecologic care and outcomes, they must identify, acknowledge and address the multiple factors which influence the health and illness of their patients. Together with other physicians and health professionals, obstetricians and gynaecologists through their clinical work, their educational activities and their research must integrate and apply this broader understanding of women’s health if they are to provide appropriate holistic care to their women patients.


      Pendant la dernière décennie, on a accordé davantage d’attention à la santé des femmes. De tout temps, on a estimé que la santé des femmes n’englobait que la santé génésique et les soins de santé génésiques. Aujourd’hui, la définition de la santé des femmes comprend toutefois leur bien-être social, culturel, spirituel, affectif et physique, et elle est influencée par des facteurs sociaux, politiques et économiques, ainsi que par la biologie de la femme. Ainsi, pour dispenser des soins de santé aux femmes, il faut s’occuper non seulement de leur biologie et leurs fonctions de reproduction, mais aussi des facteurs plus vastes de la santé et, en particulier, du rôle essentiel du sexe comme déterminant de la santé. Les priorités en matière de santé établies par les femmes elles-mêmes, leurs propres perceptions de leur santé et de leur bien-être et la diversité des femmes sont tous des aspects clés des soins optimaux à l’intention des femmes. Bien que les obstétriciens et les gynécologues aient joué un rôle de chef de file dans l’amélioration des soins génésiques et gynécologiques et de leurs résultats, ils doivent déterminer et reconnaître les facteurs multiples qui influent sur la santé et la maladie de leurs patientes et exercer leur action sur ces facteurs. En collaboration avec les autres médecins et professionnels de la santé, les obstétriciens et les gynécologues, grâce à leurs travaux cliniques, leurs activités de formation et leurs recherches, doivent intégrer et appliquer cette compréhension globale de la santé des femmes s’ils souhaitent assurer des soins holistiques appropriés à leurs patientes.

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