Session 8a: Perceptions of ‘Health’
Chair: Peter Kearney
Iranian Men’s Perceptions and Experiences about Early Detection of Prostate Cancer
European Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom
Background and objective: Despite significant progress in prostate cancer research over the last two decades, screening of the disease has remained controversial. From a sociological perspective, little is known of patients’ beliefs about their illness and why they often delay in seeking diagnosis. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the experiences and perception of men about the early detection of prostate cancer.
Method: This study used a Grounded Theory (GT) approach incorporating the theoretical perspective of social constructionism. A purposive sampling of twelve men from public and private sector hospitals who had received therapy were interviewed face to face in Persian using a semi-structured interview guide. Interviews were audiotaped, then transcribed in full, translated into English by the investigator, and analysed using MAXqda2 software.
Results: The value men accorded to early detection of prostate cancer was found to be conditional upon their beliefs of prostate illness and their experiences about cure. There was a lack of information about the early detection process. The men felt that medical intervention was focused on the biological aspects, ignoring the needs of the individual. The men were not expecting to have symptoms because of prostate treatment; this influenced their subsequent decision-making.
Conclusion: Given men’s perceptions and experiences of the illness, screening of prostate cancer seems to have wider implications. The findings suggest that early detection of the disease in Iran may need a screening model that incorporates both biomedical and psychosocial aspects.
Tales of Healthy Men? From ‘Lebensborn’ to Semen Banks
Institute for the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany
Men’s reproductive roles and the cultural meanings attached to reproduction have been at centre stage of late, with Viagra stories the subject of apt analysis by anthropologists and sociologists. In this context, a thorough rereading of the recent scientific debate about semen quality and American semen banks has suggested a process of de- and rematerialisation of men’s bodies (Lisa Jean Moore, 1999). In Germany, the male reproductive body, the normative model for medicine, has received attention in relation to the myth of its involvement in the Lebensborn, but has still been the subject of little historical analysis. Yet in the case of medical and scientific research of human semen, men’s bodies were subject to classification, standardisation, and normalisation, which formalised what it meant to be a healthy man.
This paper focuses on the ways in which male reproduction has been defined and controlled within the wider social, moral and economic context of reproduction. Using sources from the popular and medical arena, this paper re-evaluates the perception of men and the male body reflected by the German media, the medical profession and male patients in the second half of the twentieth century. It will assess what stories have been told about virility and the body politic of men in post-war Germany, and how, if at all, misgivings about the past have influenced the representation of men in the decades leading up to the establishment of semen banks. How has the male gold standard for medicine been perpetuated or questioned through these tales of male reproduction? Were there indeed multiple male representations?