Investigating gender in Parkinson’s research.

Monday 3 June 2024, 2:30 pm
PhD candidate
I.L.E. Göttgens
prof. dr. S. Oertelt, prof. dr. B.R. Bloem
dr. S.K.L. Darweesh

In recent years, both socially and scientifically, there has been more attention on the influence of gender on the illness experiences and treatment of Parkinson's disease, but knowledge in this area remains limited due to inadequate research methods and an incomplete understanding of the concept of 'gender'. This research focuses on understanding how various aspects of gender affect the quality of life and disease experiences of people with Parkinson’s disease. Key findings suggest that gender roles and norms impact quality of life, with those people with Parkinson's who conform less to traditional gender roles often experiencing a higher quality of life. Interviews indicate that most men and women do not necessarily see their gender identity as a dominant factor in their experience of the disease. It is societal ideas related to masculinity and femininity, especially regarding emotional expression, handling care responsibilities, and the gendered stereotype of 'Parkinson’s as an old man’s disease', that have more impact on how men and women with Parkinson's manage and experience their disease. Patients advocate for more attention to the diversity of experiences of men and women with Parkinson's in clinical settings. 

Irene Göttgens (1986) completed her Master's degree in Health Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2012. After her studies, she worked as a project coordinator and junior researcher at Radboudumc. In 2020, she began her doctoral research at the Department of Primary Care Medicine, where she is currently continuing her research on gender and health.