The SIMG and gender-specific medicine

Raffaella Michieli

National secretary of SIMG and ULSS 3 Serenissima, Venice

The Italian Society of General Medicine and Primary Care (SIMG) is an autonomous and independent society that was established to promote, valorize and support the professional role of general practitioners, both in the Italian healthcare system and in European and non-European health organizations.

The association was founded in 1982 and is based in Florence. Throughout Italy it has more than 100 provincial and sub-provincial sections that are coordinated by a network of regional sections. In its capacity as the scientific and professional representative for general medicine that interacts with public and private institutions, the Society dedicates special attention to training, research and continuing medical education activities. The SIMG also promotes activities regarding clinical and epidemiological research in general medicine and in the field of quality assessment, with initiatives in the publishing, information technology, distance learning and profession management sectors. In order to promote partnerships with both public and private institutions, the Society interacts with the sector’s leading national and international associations. It cooperates with the ISS (Italian National Institute for Health), the Ministry of Health, the AIFA (Italian Medicines Agency), the CNR (National Research Council), the WHO (Word Health Organization) and with sector associations in many European countries (France, Switzerland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain and Portugal) and non-European countries (American Medical Association). Lastly, it participates in Italian Ministerial Commissions, European Union commissions and EU projects. Its scientific activities are broken down into clinical areas and support areas that answer to a national area supervisor. The Society provides its institutional training activities through a research institute (Health Search) based in Florence. The SIMG has been interested in gender-specific medicine for several years now. In 2007, the Society published a Decalogue highlighting the fields in which the Society undertakes:

to stimulate gender research projects, where they are lacking;

to establish partnerships for gender research;

to dedicate special attention to gender-related issues (sample selection, adverse events, etc.) in research;

to identify literature evidence of gender issues (better/worse effect of a medicinal product, preventive action or diagnostic procedure, etc.);

to publish the gender differences observed in research on its website and in its journal;

to deal with certain topics from a gender-specific perspective, in all the congresses organized by the SIMG;

to deal with gender issues in the SIMG journal;

to stimulate, using all the tools at its disposal, greater attention to the suspicion and acknowledgment of possible situations of violence against women and against vulnerable categories:

to stimulate, using all the tools at its disposal, greater attention to the suspicion and acknowledgment of sexual discrimination.

The SIMG recognizes the need to obtain a balance in the presence of physicians of both sexes in all roles within the society and is therefore committed, in the scientific secretariat and in sections at all levels, to stimulating the active cooperation of all female general practitioners, so that women and men achieve appropriate representativity within the association.

The SIMG has published and taken part in the publication of a number of volumes on general medicine: La mente, il cuore, le braccia e... Guida alla salute delle donne (Dipartimento per l’informazione e l’editoria, Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri), La medicina di genere. La nuova frontiera della medicina (Hippocrates Edizioni medico-scientifiche), Amiche del cuore (Giunti editore), Disease management: rischio cardiovascolare e differenze di genere (Pacini editore).

We have taken part in the Ministerial Women’s Health Commission and subsequently in all the National Days organized by the Ministry.

We participated in the drafting of the Ministerial publication on gender as a determinant of health.

We have been part of the FNOMCeO Study, research and documentation monitoring center’s gender medicine working group since 2014.

We have promoted medical profession literacy by including two supplements on the topic in the SIMG journal and we have spoken about it incessantly in the congress sessions organized by our regional sections and at our annual national congress.

We have developed a national project against violence against women, named “Vìola”, proposing the displaying of a dedicated poster in general practitioners’ surgeries, informing women that they can turn to their general practitioner for help or simply someone to listen.

This is, of course, an on-going mission that constantly sets itself new challenges and new goals, which we are tackling both on a national level and with training courses that are organized with the association of physicians and the local institutions.

The working group that deals with this aspect is formed of women and men of all ages who, at this year’s national congress in Florence, recited a statement supporting the solidarity protests against violence.