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Medical gaslighting: Tamron Hall dedicates Tuesday’s episode to the women who say doctors ignored their symptoms

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Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Variety

Imagine feeling physical symptoms so unusual that you think an at-home cancer test is necessary. Now imagine that same test, which reads positive for cancer cells, is disregarded by your doctor — only to later learn it was, in fact, an accurate reading. That is the case of one of the few women who will join Tamron Hall on her show Tuesday for a discussion about the inequities among women and people of color within America’s health system.

“Medical gaslighting” is a term used to describe incidents in which patients say their illnesses and symptoms were dismissed by doctors or medical professionals. Speaking to ABC Audio ahead of Tuesday’s hour-long special, Hall says most patients who experience medical gaslighting are women and people of color.

“Fifty percent of women say that they are not believed aka medically gaslit by their physicians. And for women of color that number is even higher,” Hall said. “You have far too many women going into doctor’s offices and leaving with the clear understanding that they’re not being listened to.”

The Emmy-winning talk show host explained her desire to shed light on the disparities, citing new awareness on the topic and the fact that many members of her predominately female-staffed team had personal stories to share.

“The minute I said to my team I wanted to do this show … everyone had a story,” she said.

Hall said the brave guests who’ll share their experiences aren’t out to keep women from going to the doctor. Instead, “they want women to be empowered to challenge what they are hearing and also for doctors to do better.” 

Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee, of the award-winning documentary Aftershock, will also join Hall to shed light on the disproportionate number of Black women who die due to childbirth complications in America.

Whether medical gaslighting is happening more frequently or if women are simply talking about it more, Hall said she believes conversation and awareness on the topic can encourage other women to share their stories.

The Tamron Hall Show airs daily on ABC.

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