Gender in Epidemiology of Covid-19: Krieger Diagram
The relationships between factors associated with gender and sex and the propensity toward contracting the COVID-19 virus, as well as the opportunity for recovering from it, appear to be very intricate. In her study, Rabin delves into the specifics of how COVID-19 management and factors such as gender and sex are related to it (see Fig. 1). Viewing the issue from the biological perspective, Rabin delineates the links between the sex of patients and the threat of exposure to the disease, as well as the probability of recovery.
Although understanding the determinants associated with social factors is important in managing COVID, the assessment of biological factors is nonetheless central to the management of the disease. According to Rabin, it is critical to address the effects that estrogen, along with other female hormones, can have on stunting the development of COVID-19, as well as reducing exposure to it. The article posits that the presence of female sex hormones is the foundational determinant of successful management of COVID-19, as well as a substantial factor in reducing the levels of exposure to the disease. Namely, contributors such as estrogen, as well as other female sex hormones, are listed among the key factors leading to specific outcomes of COVID-19.
At the same time, as the diagram above shows, the role of gender factors is not to be underestimated in COVID-19 management. Rabin mentions several studies that have pointed out the correlation between gender-specific habits reinforced by the specifics of upbringing, which are often different for males and females. Namely, Rabin addresses the fact that “Men smoke more almost everywhere, they say; men also wash their hands less.” Thus, understanding the significance of both gender and sex factors is necessary to develop the full picture of COVID-19 spread and the needs of target communities.
In turn, Shattuck-Heidorn et al. adopt a slightly different approach, pointing to the fact that gender disparities and related differences in behaviors of both patients and nurses define the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Likewise, the further management of the coronavirus appears to be linked to gender-related characteristics of the specified audience (see Fig. 2). Overall, the argument that the authors attempt to convey is that sex, while having a certain effect on patients’ chances to survive after developing COVID-19, is not the only factor defining the success of the treatment. According to Shattuck-Heidorn et al., “Sex difference alone isn’t meaningful without incorporating other factors.” Indeed, given the wide range of other factors, such as patients’ health status prior to the disease and the quality of health services, it is important to understand gender-related constraints to managing the coronavirus.
Namely, the authors mention specific threats associated with the inability to maintain social distancing, which has been attributed to men in the research, which needs to be mentioned. Another important contributor to the threat of exposure and contraction is the age, and health status has proven to be of importance. Namely, younger and healthier patients have higher chances of survival and lower ones of exposure. Notably, the authors of the article do not underestimate the importance of sex as a variable affecting patients’ exposure to the threat of the coronavirus, as well as the challenges in addressing the disease.
However, they emphasize the role that gender plays as well. For instance, Shattuck-Heidorn et al. point to the specified important statistical data: “In Hong Kong, only 5.9 percent of women ages 35 to 44 died, compared with 15.3 percent of men.” The described phenomenon does not imply that sex does not matter in the identification of the coronavirus threat but, instead, shows that issues such as frequency of health checks and the ability for social distancing matter as well.