Women and Health: Choices, Challenges, and Champions

Statement of the Problem and Its Importance:

“…Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Women’s health involves their emotional, social and physical well-being and is determined by the social, political and economic context of their lives, as well as by biology. However, health and well-being elude the majority of women.”                                                                                                            http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/daw/

Despite facing many market and socio-political challenges, women are the health decision-makers for themselves and their families. In the US, women make over 80% of all family health decisions (Kaiser Family Foundation 2011). Yet a majority of women feel they lack the time, resources, and confidence to promote health. Furthermore, when a life transition or health crisis occurs, women experience significant shifts in their roles, identities, and networks. As TCR researchers, the aim of this track is to examine our current understanding of women’s experiences related to health and identify gaps in knowledge and practice. The outcome will be to further research agendas to empower women for promoting health and agency.

Goals of the Proposed Track 

This track seeks to combine diverse theoretical and contextual paradigms in an effort to further understand questions pertaining to the health issues of women, specifically in the domains such as self, identity, family, agency, and advocacy. The focus will specifically be on the challenges women encounter as they navigate their personal well-being, as well as that of their family, in both the health marketplace and society. Additionally, this track seeks to initiate dialogue about the champions that women become in terms of agents in the market, catalysts of change, and contributors to the health of societies (WHO 2009).

  • Choices: Women act as primary decision-makers and health advocates for themselves and their families. They gather information, network with others, align these with personal value systems, and make choices about health services (e.g., immunizations, preventive care) and health promotion (e.g., nutrition, lifestyle) on behalf of their families. Research is needed to better understand the communities in which health knowledge is shared, comprehension of such information, its integration into one’s life, and the nuances of making such complex choices.
  • Challenges: Many times women are diagnosed with mental and/or physical health conditions or are faced with transitional life periods (e.g., motherhood, infertility, menopause, disability) that may adversely impact or transform their individual identities, thus influencing behavior (Fischer et al. 2007; Mason & Pavia 2015; Pavia & Mason 2004; Pounders et al. 2015). Research is needed to better understand the intricacies and gradations of these identity shifts, and resultant changes in behavior. Furthermore, research is needed to understand how women navigate complex service environments while negotiating sensitive socio-cultural meanings about one’s body, identity, agency, and future well-being.
  • Champions: Women many times undergo modifications in their family roles and responsibilities when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious health condition. For example, a woman’s identity may evolve from that of a loving daughter into that of a caregiver or action agent whose primary task is to facilitate the flow of information between the emotionally or physically compromised loved one and the healthcare system. Research is needed to develop greater insight into why and how these modifications occur and the resulting impact on a woman’s identity, relationships, and behavior.

Track Schedule

At the conference, our team will develop a conceptual framework for understanding women’s experiences in making health choices, facing health challenges, and acting as a health champion on behalf of loved ones. We will identify an agenda for empirical research. In order to be productive while together, we outline our schedule ask each participant to engage in about four days of preconference preparation (described below):


Formation of our Track

  • A diverse group of 5-7 researchers will be selected based on their research interest, contextual area, methodology, stage of career and geographical location.
  • Track chairs will invite 1-3 scholars/practitioners in the area of healthcare, public health, non-profit organizations, and/or government agencies to participate.
  • Participants will be connected through a group Facebook page. A personal introduction and research interest statement will be shared.

Preparation by Participants

  • Participants will commit one day to reading 5-7 articles selected by the track chairs, as well as 1-2 articles chosen by each participant. This will allow our team to begin with a common literature foundation and serve as a catalyst for our conceptual discussions.
  • Participants will commit two days to conduct exploratory research that can provide insights for our conceptual framework. The data collection can be done independently or in pairs. As a group, we will identify possible research areas and organize a collaborative research effort.
  • Participants should commit one day to prepare a poster highlighting their exploratory work and findings.


Day 1

  • 9:00-10:30   Research Poster Session

Participants will share their research posters and synopsis of key insights with the group. Discussion will center around integrating the groups’ findings. Non-marketing participants will provide feedback and additional insights.

  • 10:45-12:00   Themes Identification and Literature Reflection

Participants will summarize common themes uncovered during the pre-conference research. We will reflect on what the literature contributes to our findings, how women’s health experiences have been portrayed, where knowledge gaps exist, and what methodological approaches could be used to investigate and empower.

  • 2:00 – 5:00   Research Priorities and Conceptual Framing

Participants will outline research priorities and begin to develop a conceptual framing for the research agenda from a consumer research perspective. A conceptual poster will be developed for the evening reception.

Day 2

  • 9:00-12:00   Conceptual Revision and Next Steps

Building on the evening’s feedback, participants will revise the research conceptualization and agenda. We will then outline a conceptual paper for submission to the Journal of Business Research special issue. Finally, we will break into groups for identifying potential empirical projects going forward.


Participants will co-author and submit a conceptual paper to the TCR special issue of the Journal of Business Research. We also plan to submit a special session to the Association for Consumer Research Conference. Most importantly, we hope to form a supportive group of scholars with sustained interest in the topic who commit to develop and encourage empirical projects.

Please contact the corresponding track chairs for questions about this track:

Marlys Mason

Oklahoma State University

Kate Pounders

University of Texas

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  1. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (2016), “Review of Patient Experience and its Measurement in Australian Hospitals “, http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/our-work/information-strategy/indicators/hospital-patient-experience/review-of-hospital-patient-experience-surveys-conducted-by-australian-hospitals/
  2. Barr, Paul (2016), “Patient Experience Is Increasingly Important,” Hospitals & Health Networks, http://www.hhnmag.com/articles/7083-patient-experience-is-increasingly-important
  3. National Health Service (NHS) (2013), “Improving Patient Experience,” https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/pe/#
  4. Rawson, James (2015), “Improving the Patient Experience by Working Together,” PCORI: Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
  5. The Beryl Institute (2016), “The Beryl Institute,” http://www.theberylinstitute.org/