The article is a review of different trends and epistemologies in women's studies/feminist research within the field of medicine. In the beginning of the 1980s, women's studies entered the field of medicine in the Nordic countries. They are now a part of the feminist research that has been established within most sciences both nationally and internationally. The gender power relation and its impact on health--first of all women's, but in extension also men's--has been in focus. Moreover, science itself, its limits and possibilities, and the kind of knowledge it produces, is discussed. In this respect, feminist theory of science is a useful tool.
This study presents new knowledge about women's work, health and ill health. The point of departure is a lack of knowledge and understanding in medical research and practice of women's work and experiences of ill health. The study is qualitative and based on the life histories of 20 elderly women. What can be learned from them is often of use also in the encounter with younger female patients. The research constitutes a part of feminist science. The women taught us about invisible and heavy work, paid and unpaid, and often carried out for the benefit of others. The relationship between the married women and their husbands had a strong impact on both the women's work and their health. Being responsible for other people's well being, and with little sway over their working conditions, the women often had difficulty looking after their own health. The results point to the necessity of asking women thorough questions about their everyday life when they seek primary health care. Great parts of their work and working conditions, crucial to their health, might otherwise be overlooked.