The female body in the clinic: Healthcare seeking for and diagnostic work around gynecological disturbances in general practice

Project: PhD Project

Project Details


For gynaecological disturbances, it is difficult for both women and general practitioners (GPs) to distinguish between normal female bodily experiences, symptoms of benign diseases, and potential malignancies. Contemporary efforts to secure early diagnosis of cancer may have further complicated this by expanding potential ‘signs and symptoms’ of cancer to include increasingly vague and diffuse bodily experiences. In order to honour the benefits of access to high-tech diagnostic technologies, the public as well as doctors must now respond to these ‘early and vague signs’ of cancer. This has resulted in a series of semiotic and pragmatic challenges in general practice, which form the empirical point of departure of this ethnographic study. Furthermore, gynaecological disturbances are embodied experiences embedded in a web of meaning where gender and women’s former experiences with their female reproductive organs and functions may influence not only care seeking behaviour, but also social and biological legitimacy within clinical settings.

In order to produce knowledge that may help us understand and improve diagnostic practices around gynaecological cancers, this project sets out to explore 1) how and when women pay attention to gynaecological ‘signs and symptoms’, 2) how and when they decide to consult a GP, and 3) how gynaecological ‘signs and symptoms’ are paid attention to, articulated and understood in the context of general practice surgeries.
Short titleGender, cancer symptomatology, and care seeking
Effective start/end date01/09/202131/08/2024


  • Symptoms
  • Gynaecology
  • Ethnography
  • Healthcare seeking
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Everyday life
  • Participant observation
  • Gender
  • Midlife
  • Menopause
  • Gynecological cancer
  • Bodily experience


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