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A gender profile of cataract patients: implications for delivery of opthalmic curriculum

Ethics clearance was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee at Austin Health, and thirty-seven female and twenty-nine male patients recruited. Demographic and clinical measures, forty patients’ interview transcripts (twenty of each sex) and medical school teaching were analysed.

Female participants were more likely to be widowed or single (57% females, 21% males), to live alone (27% females, 10% males) and to conduct home duties (35% females, 0% males), and were less likely to drive pre-operatively (46% females, 71% males). For females, correlation between satisfaction with vision and VF-14 score was lower and between pre-operative VA and VF-14 was not significant, despite being significant for males.  Patient interviews challenged some stereotypes by finding that more females reported trouble with outdoor areas of mobility and more males with social interaction.  Curriculum critique revealed firstly that overt curriculum failed to consider gender as a health determinant. Secondly gender stereotyping was present in covert curriculum, frequently portraying females as ‘passive’. Thirdly, androcentrism was evident in the use of male experience of cataract, such as difficulty driving and playing sport, as the ‘norm’.

Presentation of sex-disaggregated data in the purportedly gender-neutral disease of cataract in future curriculum accounts is supported by this study.

Submitting Author: Gargi Kothari (Final Year University of Melbourne Medical Student) – conception and design, obtaining ethics approval, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data; Supervisor: Associate Professor Deb Colville – guidance, support and encouragement with all of above