Once considered a taboo topic, gender is now an increasingly important part of the patient care journey as research shows some diseases present primarily, differently, or exclusively in women rather than men. For example, in cases where women and men have the same degree of airway obstruction from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), women report more anxiety and depression, worse symptoms, a lower capacity to exercise, and worse overall health-related quality of life compared to men. In addition, women’s lung diseases are generally diagnosed and treated at lower rates than men—a statistic that sheds light on a significant gap in healthcare.
In an effort to address disparities like these at the Temple Lung Center, the new Women’s Lung Disease Program is the first of its kind in the region that makes it possible for female patients to now identify and select female doctors who have an extensive understanding of sex-based health differences. Providers in the program also pay close attention to external variables—such as home and work environments—to factor in how those, too, may impact women patients in different ways than men.
“We are creating a supportive environment where we can be more sensitive to the unique needs of female patients,” says Dr. Jamie Garfield, one of seven female doctors championing the initiative. “The more intentional we are about the need to identify areas of disparity, the more sensitive we are with our patients.”