Social Conflict 1: Before Diagnosis
Synopsis: All women — but especially women with a family history of ovarian cancer — deserve information they can use to be on the lookout for this disease. But attitudes and expectations related to women’s health prevent them from getting the information they need soon enough to make the best decisions about ovarian cancer. Attitudes about women’s health and decision-making sometimes prevent conversations that ought to occur with care providers.
Patient voice: “The symptoms, some of them are embarrassing to talk about. A change in your bowels, that's embarrassing to talk about. Urinary urgency, that's embarrassing. Bloating — for women, it’s hard for us, or it was hard for me —to accept what I was feeling, and to say, ‘Yeah, this is a problem.’ Doctors’ tendency is to pat us on the back and say, ‘You know, you're 50, going through the change. Get over it.’ And so as women, that's what we do.”
Group analysis: This site of social conflict is challenging to address because it potentially includes our entire culture — consider every message about health and disease a woman receives that directs her away from thinking about ovarian cancer. However, our research groups explained how initiatives like Survivors Teaching Students make ovarian cancer visible to physicians before they encounter their first case of the disease. Advocates within the community suggested the creation of a new kind of “speakers’ bureau” that would increase the impact of such outreach programs and expand them to the general public, targeting other groups that ought to know more about ovarian cancer.
Design principle: Any new resource for ovarian cancer must include prominent, friendly, open-ended patient stories that many people can identify with. Ovarian cancer must be “seen” sooner by physicians, nurses, patients, and families.