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September 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1983 ; 17(13): 853-9.

Gender aspects of illness and practitioner use among Filipinos.

Lieban RW.

Higher rates of reported illness among women than men and more frequent use of medical services by women in Western societies have been of considerable interest to medical sociology. In contrast, relatively little attention has been paid in medical anthropology to gender differences in illness rates and utilization of medical services in non-Western areas. In a study of four urban Filipino healers and their patients, it was found that women outnumbered men in the clienteles of all the healers. However, the gender imbalance was significantly greater in one healer's practice than in the practices of the other three. This quintessential case of a practice predominated by women is the focus of this paper. The paper examines various aspects of women's roles, including those that are given metaphorical expression in folk etiology. The special importance that these role factors assume in the practice of the healer appears to be implicated in the extraordinarily high ratio of women among her patients.

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