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Medical research should include more women participants and examine the role of gender in disease
Date:5/12/2008

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Are the health needs of women adequately addressed by medical research as it is currently conducted? In the May issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a team of Australian researchers and two cardiologists closely examine this question.

The traditional model of medical research was limited by gender and racial blindness and assumed that results of research on white male participants could be easily extrapolated to female and minority populations, write Wendy Rogers, B.M.B.S., Ph.D., and Angela Ballantyne, Ph.D., from the School of Medicine at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. The researchers say a growing body of evidence shows important differences between men and women related to the incidence of certain diseases, how they respond to treatment and the long-term outcomes.

Drs. Rogers and Ballantyne reviewed 400 clinical studies that were conducted in Australia and the results were published in journals between Jan. 1, 2003 and May 31, 2006. The research provides data about issues that include: the number of men versus women participating in research on diseases affecting both genders; the number of studies classified as female-only research and male-only research; and the degree to which studies provided gender-specific data and analysis.

Analysis such as this is essential for determining whether the national research agenda is addressing issues in both mens and womens health and the extent, if any, of inappropriate exclusions of either gender from potentially beneficial research, write Drs. Rogers and Ballantyne.

At first glance, the numbers collected by the Australian team do not suggest that women are under-represented in the research they examined. Of the 546,824 persons studied, 73 percent were female. However, the team points out that these numbers were largely due to the greater number and size of female-only studies. When Drs. Rogers and Ballantyne looked at the type of research in which men
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Contact: John Murphy
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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