3 ways to provide better health care to women.

3 ways to provide better health care to women.

Aside from all the specific disparities women face in health care, the most distinct disparity is that women statistically are not taken seriously and as a result are misdiagnosed or under-treated (1). Put simply — women aren’t being listened to. In fact, “hysteria” comes from the Greek word for “uterus”, which highlights the deep rooted history for the bias that occurs against women to this day. 

At Violet, we believe that all people deserve equitable health care, no matter their identity or background. And so, to celebrate this International Women’s Day we’ve rounded up our top ways health care providers can support women’s health in the US, build culturally competent practices, and help close disparity gaps today.

1. Learn and use trauma-informed care. 

One in four women has experienced domestic violence or other forms of trauma, and research indicates that women are twice as likely to develop PTSD, experience PTSD for a longer duration, and display more sensitivity to stimuli that remind them of the trauma (2). This means it’s all the more important for health care providers to use trauma-informed practices for women’s health.

What is trauma-informed care? It acknowledges the need to understand a patient’s life experiences in order to deliver effective care and has the potential to improve patient engagement, treatment adherence, health outcomes, and provider and staff wellness (3). Particularly when performing medical exams, which can be perceived as invasive, triggering, and lead to extreme anxiety, it’s important to enact a consent-based approach to exams. 

Some culturally competent practices: 

  • Involve your patients in the treatment process
  • Screen for trauma when intaking new patients
  • Train your staff in trauma-specific treatment approaches

Read an example here from Violet of performing a consent-based pelvic exam.

2. Recognize that not all women receive the same care. 

BIPOC women, especially Black women, in the United States experience vastly different health care access and treatment.

Black women experience: 

  • Shorter life expectancies (4)
  • Higher rates of maternal mortality (5) 
  • Higher rates of chronic conditions, such as anemia, cardiovascular disease, and obesity (6)

These disparities and higher rates of chronic conditions reflect the structural inequities both within and outside health care that Black women experience throughout life. 

Some culturally competent practices: 

  • Provide standardized procedures and practices so that every patient, regardless of race, will receive the same amount of care. Having best practice guides available and following them can ensure more consistent treatment.
  • Understand that a patient’s race/ethnicity is not a risk factor for discrimination; exposure to discrimination and racism are the risk factors.
  • Provide resources to find family-centered care from a midwife, doula, and lactation specialist
  • Use empathy and understand that patients have a variety of medical mistrust that stems from history, systemic barriers, and more. 

Read here for Violet's guide on combating racism in health care. 

3. Make health care more accessible to transgender women. 

Health care for women should — and must — include transgender women at the forefront. One of the most important things health care providers can do is to acknowledge and learn the unique health disparities facing transgender women. 

Transgender women experience some of the highest disparities in health. 

  • According to Transgender Survey, 54% of transgender women were denied coverage for gender-affirming surgery and 18% were denied hormone treatment. (7)
  • 22% of transgender women avoided care for fear of mistreatment by a health care provider. (7)
  • Transgender women experience higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. (8)

Some culturally competent practices: 

  • Communicate access by updating intake forms signage, and advertising for your office
  • Partner with local organizations to build trust with transgender communities
  • Teach transgender women the names of the organs, processes, and systems involved in their health care. For many patients who experienced some level of “dysphoria” throughout their life, they may not have learned about this in health class, from family, or on their own.

Read here for Violet's guide on inclusive family-planning for transgender and non-confirming patients.


  1. One study found that women in emergency rooms are less likely to be taken seriously than men. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=383803 Another study published in Academic Emergency Medicine found that women who went to the emergency room (ER) with severe stomach pain had to wait for almost 33% longer than men with the same symptoms. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1553-2712.2008.00100.x
  2. https://www.apa.org/advocacy/interpersonal-violence/women-trauma
  3. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/programs_campaigns/childrens_mental_health/atc-whitepaper-040616.pdf
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus18.pdf
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternal-mortality/disparities-pregnancy-related-deaths/infographic.html
  6. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jwh.2020.8868
  7. https://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS-Full-Report-Dec17.pdf
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31078203/

Violet is building the first-ever infrastructure for inclusive health care, through benchmarking, upskilling, and recognizing cultural competence in health care providers. They envision a world where every human receives equitable health care, no matter their race, sexual orientation, gender, ability, language, citizenship, or more. 

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