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.
In a prospective controlled study we evaluated the effect of early norfloxacin treatment on the duration of salmonella carriage after acute salmonellosis. The study was carried out during an outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium infection at a military base. 23 patients received norfloxacin 400 mg twice daily for 7 days while 29 patients served as untreated controls. A patient was considered to have ceased being a carrier on the date of the first of 3 negative consecutive cultures. Four weeks after diagnosis 30% of the treated patients and 31% in the control group were still carriers. The corresponding figures after 8 and 12 weeks were 17 and 3% and 4 and 0%, respectively. Thus, one week of norfloxacin treatment instituted at an early stage of salmonellosis did not shorten the duration of carriage.
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.