A study led by Dr. Rima R. Habib, Professor and Chair in the Department of Environmental Health at the Faculty of Health Sciences, assessed how sex and gender factors are considered in the occupational health literature on healthcare workers in conflict settings, and identified the gaps in incorporating sex and gender concepts in this literature.
Sex and gender factors have been associated with all dimensions of the workplace. They play an important role in shaping the experiences, exposures, and health outcomes of male and female healthcare providers working in war and conflict settings.
However, the distinction between sex and gender in occupational health research is often blurred, as it can be difficult to identify whether the biological determinants (sex) or the social influences (gender) are responsible for the observed differences between men and women, particularly in studying job and task assignments.
During times of conflict and war, healthcare facilities and workers become targets of violent attacks, kidnapping and murder. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers responding to attacks and disasters face hazardous working conditions in times of conflict; they are susceptible to harmful chemicals exposures, such as rubble and dust from the destruction or collapse of buildings and other structures.
The precarious working conditions faced by healthcare and EMS workers have been associated with increased risk of injury, and numerous physical and mental health problems. Experiences and exposures often differ between male and female healthcare and EMS workers, which can be attributed to both biological and societal variations. Female healthcare workers, for instance, have been shown to have higher rates of work-related musculoskeletal pain and experience more workplace bullying than their male counterparts. Due to sex/gender differences, the consideration of sex/gender in occupational health research is essential to inform sound evidence-based health and safety policies.
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