Print version ISSN 0213-9111
GARCIA-CALVENTE, María del Mar et al. Gender analysis of primary care professionals' perceptions and attitudes to informal care. Gac Sanit [online]. 2010, vol.24, n.4, pp. 293-302. ISSN 0213-9111. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0213-91112010000400006.
Objectives: To analyze primary care professionals' perceptions and attitudes to informal care from a gender perspective. Methods: We performed a qualitative study using interviews and a discussion group. Eighteen primary care professionals were selected in the Health District of Grenada (Spain) by means of intentional sampling. Content analysis was performed with the following categories: a) perceptions: concepts of dependency and informal care, gender differences and impact on health, b) attitudes: not in favor of change, in favor of change and the right not to provide informal care. Results: The health professionals emphasized the non-professional, free and strong emotional component of informal care. These professionals assigned the family (especially women) the main responsibility for caregiving and used stereotypes to differentiate between care provided by men and by women. The professionals agreed that women had a greater psychological burden associated with care, mainly because they more frequently provide caregiving on their own than men. Three major attitudes emerged among health professionals about informal care: those who did not question the current situation and idealized the family as the most appropriate framework for caregiving; those who proposed changes toward a more universal dependency system that would relieve families; and those who adopted an intermediate position, favoring education to achieve wellbeing in caregivers and prevent them from ceasing to provide care. Conclusions: We identified perceptions and attitudes that showed little sensitivity to gender equality, such as a conservative attitude that assigned the family the primary responsibility for informal care and some sexist stereotypes that attributed a greater ability for caregiving to women. Specific training in gender equality is required among health professionals to reduce inequalities in informal care.
Keywords : Informal care; Caregivers; Gender; Gender inequalities; Primary health care; Health professional-family relations.