Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Health Information Science


Health Information Science


MacDermid, C. Joy


Arthritis is a common disorder that may result in pain and inflammation, making it challenging to move or continue being active. Arthritis comes in a variety of forms. The two studies of this thesis aimed to identify the influence of intersectionality, especially sex and gender, in arthritis. The first study, a structured review, evaluated the inclusion of sex/gender and intersectional identities in patient resources of three arthritis societies: the Canadian Arthritis Society, the American Arthritis Foundation, and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. The appraisal tool, the Sex/Gender and Intersectional Considerations in Patient/Consumer Health Information Appraisal Tool was used to evaluate patient resources. The second study, an interpretive description, found that there are challenges in accessing health information among arthritis patients. It was also found that patients are dissatisfied with the information or services provided by physicians.

Summary for Lay Audience

What is the problem?

Arthritis is joint inflammation (joints are regions where two bones meet like elbow or knee). Patients' preferences and needs for health information are influenced by intersectionality: sex, gender, race, other factors. Sex is a biological construct and gender is a social construct. Gender refers to gender-specific roles, behaviours, expressions, and identities of men, women, boys, and girls that are socially created. There are currently no standards or algorithms that provide precise recommendations on concerns of sex and gender differences.

How did we study the problem?

In the first study, we evaluated patient resources in arthritis societies using the Sex/Gender and Intersectional Considerations in Patient/Consumer Health Information Appraisal Tool. In the second study, we asked arthritis participants about their health information needs and their experiences accessing and receiving health information.

What did we learn?

In the first study, we found that not more than half of the evaluated resources adequately considered sex/gender or intersectionality. The lack of gender aware information was highlighted by the frequency with which sex and gender terms were inaccurately attributed, and lack of description for how they are linked to differences in treatment responses, risks, or prognosis.

In the second study, the challenges patients have while accessing health information revealed the need to adopt a patient-centered strategy that focuses on their needs and allows them to express their opinions.

How can this research be used?

The first study highlighted the need to consider intersectionality, especially sex and gender. The second study results the need for identifying patients’ health information-seeking behaviours, sources of information, and barriers to accessing information. Patients need to be engaged in designing information systems and programs. Education alone is not sufficient; patients need to be active partners in their care and management of arthritis.