Sex and gender considerations missing in most diabetes studies

Sex and gender considerations missing in most diabetes studies

Sex and gender have emerged as important considerations when planning research, particularly in diabetes.  Sex differences have been found to affect the onset of diabetes complications, particularly those related to cardiovascular and mental health.  Considering sex and gender in research and clinical care can also lead to more robust study findings and inform tailored care delivery and better health outcomes. From the outset, Diabetes Action Canada has recognized the importance of integrating sex and gender into health research and has engaged the Women’s Xchange at Women’s College Hospital to lead our Sex and Gender Research Program. In May, this group published an article entitled, “Measuring the data gap: inclusion of sex and gender reporting in diabetes research” in the journal Research Integrity and Peer Review, examining the integration of sex and gender in original investigations on diabetes.   After reviewing 115 randomized controlled trials and 40 observational studies, they found that sex and gender was rarely incorporated in article titles, abstracts and introductions.  Further, most method sections did not describe sex and gender-specific analyses or stratified results; just 10 (6.5%) of the studies reported study outcomes separately by sex or gender.  The take home message from this article is that sex and gender are poorly integrated in current diabetes studies and as we move toward precision medicine, substantial improvement in sex and gender data reporting is needed.

Diabetes Action Canada has already seen the positive effects of incorporating sex and gender into its research involving human subjects.  Drs. Rochon and Mason, co-leads for our Sex and Gender Program, and their team have reviewed many proposals for Diabetes Action Canada investigators, elevating the extent to which sex and gender have been considered and potentially increasing the project funding success. As always, the sex and gender support service is available to all Diabetes Action Canada members and strongly encouraged by our leadership

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