When assessing the needs of mesothelioma victims, we tend to think clinically, emotionally, and financially. A recent study has added another layer to our understanding of what these patients need, pointing to significant differences between women’s experience of the disease and that of men.
Gendered Differences in Mesothelioma Rooted in Family and Society Roles
The analysis, conducted by researchers from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing, set out to identify how mesothelioma patient experiences are specific to gender. With a great deal known about clinical differences between men and women with the disease, their study set out to focus on specific differences in use of treatment protocols, seeking compensation, and psychological distress.
The researchers recruited 11 women and 13 men diagnosed with mesothelioma, interviewing them between July and December 2019 over the phone. The interviews focused on their experience with diagnosis, treatment and trials, benefits and legal claims, and their greatest concerns about living with the disease. Though their experiences were similar when it came to interactions with health care professionals and systems and their emotional distress upon diagnosis, there were significant differences in the areas of familial responsibility and social perception, support preferences, and opting into treatment and trials.
Three Major Differences in Women and Men’s Mesothelioma Experiences
The differences between men and women’s experiences of mesothelioma were most profound in the area of familial responsibility and social perceptions. Women focused on domestic tasks, how they could best prepare their family and partner for life after their death, and their responsibility for their family members’ emotions. By contrast, men were most focused on making sure that their families were financially stable. This led many to pursue legal action against those responsible so that they could secure compensation. Women were less apt to sue because they did not want to appear greedy or confrontational.
Differences between the genders were also seen in their support preferences and approach to choosing aggressive treatments and participation in clinical trials. Men valued practical support such as mesothelioma medication management an appointment management, where women placed greater value on emotional support, and when it came to treatment men were more decisive in their choices, where women were more tentative and placed the most weight on the emotional impact that their choice would have on the family. The researchers concluded that understanding and recognizing these factors and differences would be useful in supporting mesothelioma patients in the future.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is important that you get the support that you need. For information about the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.