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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Social media have in recent years challenged the way in which research questions are formulated in epidemiology and medicine, and in particular when it comes to women's health. They have contributed to the emergence of 'new' public health topics (e.g. gynaecological and obstetric violence, long-Covid), the unearthing of testimonials of medical injustice, and in some cases, the creation of new evidence and changes in medical practice.<br />

MAIN TEXT: From a theoretical and methodological perspective, we observe two powerful mechanisms at play on social media, which can facilitate the implementation of feminist epidemiological research and address so-called anti-feminist bias: social media as a 'third' space and the power of groups. Social media posts can be seen as inhabiting a third space, akin to what is said off the record or in-between doors, at the end of a therapy session. Researchers somehow miss the opportunity to use the third spaces that people occupy. Similarly, another existing space that researchers are seldom interested in are peer-groups. Peer-groups are the ideal terrain to generate bottom-up research priorities. To some extent, their on-line versions provide a safe and emancipatory space, accessible, transnational, and inclusive. We would argue that this could bring feminist epidemiology to scale.<br />

CONCLUSION: Given the emancipatory power of social media, we propose recommendations and practical implications for leveraging the potential of online-sourced feminist epidemiology at different stages of the research process (from design to dissemination), and for increasing synergies between researchers and the community. We emphasise that attention should be paid to patriarchal sociocultural contexts and power dynamics, the mitigation of risks for political recuperation and stigmatisation, and the co-production of respectful discourse on studied populations.