Gender differences in pathways to care for early psychosis
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AIMS: Gender is a critical demographic determinant in first-episode psychosis research. We used data from the ACE Pathways to Care Project, which examined pathways to care in African-origin, Caribbean-origin and European-origin participants, to investigate the role of gender in pathways to early intervention programmes. METHOD: A qualitative approach was used to examine gender differences in the routes to care. We conducted four focus groups and four individual in-depth interviews with 25 service users of early intervention services from African-origin, Caribbean-origin and European-origin populations. RESULTS: Gender stereotypes negatively influence the first service contact for women, and the early phase of the help seeking process for men. Women reported trying to seek care. However, family members and service providers often questioned their calls for help. Men described having difficulties in talking about their symptoms, as the act of seeking help was perceived as a sign of weakness by peers. CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study suggest that gender stereotypes shape the journey to specialized care in different ways for men and women. Awareness of the impact that gender stereotypes have when a young person is seeking care for psychosis could help to promote a shift in attitudes among health-care providers and the provision of more compassionate and patient-centred care during this critical time.
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