Gender-sensitive reporting in medical research

Shirin Heidari, Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Judith D. Auerbach, Simone E. Buitendijk, Pedro Cahn, Mirjam J. Curno, Catherine Hankins, Elly Katabira, Susan Kippax, Richard Marlink, Joan Marsh, Ana Marusic, Heidi M. Nass, Julio Montaner, Elizabeth Pollitzer, Maria Teresa Ruiz-Cantero, Lorraine Sherr, Papa Salif Sow, Kathleen Squires, Mark A. Wainberg

Publication Date: 03/12/2012

Sex and gender differences influence the health and wellbeing of men and women. Although studies have drawn attention to observed differences between women and men across diseases, remarkably little research has been pursued to systematically investigate these underlying sex differences. Women continue to be underrepresented in clinical trials, and even in studies in which both men and women participate, systematic analysis of data to identify potential sex-based differences is lacking. Standards for reporting of clinical trials have been established to ensure provision of complete, transparent and critical information. An important step in addressing the gender imbalance would be inclusion of a gender perspective in the next Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guideline revision. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, as a set of well-recognized and widely used guidelines for authors and biomedical journals, should similarly emphasize the ethical obligation of authors to present data analyzed by gender as a matter of routine. Journal editors are also promoters of ethical research and adequate standards of reporting, and requirements for inclusion of gender analyses should be integrated into editorial policies as a matter of urgency.