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Medical Research Should Include More Women Participants and Examine the Role of Gender in Disease Incidence and Treatment
Date:5/12/2008

ed at the type of research in which men and women participated, they discovered that male participants were more than three times as likely to be involved in research into conditions affecting both men and women. Other data provided by the Australian team indicates that gender-specific reporting of results in women is particularly lacking in pharmaceutical research.

"Research on women's health continues to focus predominantly on their reproductive capacity and function, whereas research with men continues to investigate conditions that are not specific to one sex," write Drs. Rogers and Ballantyne. The result, say the authors, is that women are underrepresented in research focusing on significant health issues that are unrelated to biological aspects of reproduction.

Despite the growing literature on the clinical importance of gender, the Australian team noted that the majority of the 400 studies reviewed did not analyze the potential role of participant's gender in their published research. Drs. Rogers and Ballantyne recommend that clinical trials registries collect data on the gender of participants "to facilitate further research in this area and that researchers, journal editors, and peer reviewers work to standardize mechanisms for sex-specific reporting and analysis in publications."

In a companion editorial, cardiologists Sharonne N. Hayes, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Women's Heart Clinic, and Rita Redberg, M.D., from the University of California, San Francisco, explore the historical context surrounding the limited role of women participating in medical research and provide additional data that echo the findings of the Australian team.

"We observed the same phenomenon in a recent review of cardiology clinical trials where only 25 percent of all studies reported results by sex. As heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, it is dismaying that data from cardiovascular clinical trials are so limited," write
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SOURCE Mayo Clinic Proceedings
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