Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women throughout the world and is often underdiagnosed and under-treated in women. Female patients are less likely to undergo cardiovascular screening tests, receive interventional treatment, or be given cardiac rehabilitation referrals.
To address these disparities, a number of heart centers for women have opened throughout the world. Yet there is little information about the perspective of patients who visit the centers.
Recently, Elisheva Leiter and other researchers from the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center for Women at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem conducted an enlightening study on patients’ experiences in all-female heart centers for women. The findings were published in the July 2022 issue of Patient Preference and Adherence, an international journal.
The women interviewed for the study reported that their visit enhanced their knowledge and awareness of issues related to heart disease in women and had personal health benefits. A key finding was that women appreciated the women center’s holistic approach, which included consideration of their lifestyle, the staff’s expression of concern, personalized attention, common language, and feeling understood.
The participants indicated the following:
- As a gender medicine clinic, the center addressed the differences between men and women related to symptoms and treatment, which many first learned about during their visit.
- The all-female aspect of the center was a valuable part of their experience.
- The all-female staff made them feel more comfortable, cared for, and understood.
The participants also identified benefits that were not directly related to attending a women-centered clinic, such as personalized treatment, holistic care, and multi-disciplinary treatment all under one roof, in one day.
The study is the first qualitative assessment of patients who seek care in the setting of a women’s health center. These findings may help inform the design of medical care facilities that aim to address the gender disparities in cardiovascular health.