It can be a great challenge for men and women to learn to deal with a rheumatic disease and its consequences. There are numerous indications in scientific literature that men and women react differently to stress. It has, for instance, been proposed that female reactions are characterized by a “tend-and-befriend” pattern, while male behavior is characterized by a “fight-or-flight” pattern. “Tend and befriend” refers to behavior that involves protection of offspring (tending) and seeking out the social group for mutual defense (befriending). A fight-or-flight pattern is characterized by confronting the stressor (fight) or flee (flight), either literally or through avoidant coping, such as social withdrawal. There are also other examples from daily life suggesting that women and men indeed react differently. For example, women show more emotions and like to talk with other women about their problems, while men perhaps process emotions by seeking distraction such as watching soccer with other men. Social roles are also different for men and women. Women more often take care of the children and do a larger part of the housekeeping. These differences in roles and coping between men and women may affect the psychological impact of a rheumatic disease. This would suggest a gender-sensitive approach in research and health care. In this presentation, I will review research that used a gender-sensitive approach and present the results with regard to gender differences in psychological impact and ways of coping in people with rheumatic diseases.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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