What do you think about gender bias on health research?

What do you think about gender bias on health research?

Nowadays we see many studies with a equal slip of male and female participants. But, for many years that was not the case. Cardiovascular disease research in the 80s, for example, was mostly done in men. Now, although more women are being included on studies, men were still constantly the focus of much of the research on important causes of death for both genders.

Some would even say that the increase on female participants is also strongly related with having more studies exclusive to women. Which means that the number of female participants wouldn't be so fairly distributed if studies with only women were not considered!!

Looks like the cardiovascular disease red flag from the 80s is being addressed: I found a study (http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/124/19/2145.full.pdf+html) that shows how that last 10 years changed on the subject of cardiovascular disease research and prevention for women.

I also found this article by by Carolyn Thomas with many examples of what she calls Unconscious Bias: myheartsisters.org/2013/08/...

A few interesting points mentioned:

- Girls are 22 percent less likely to be placed on a kidney transplant list than boys

- Orthopedic surgeons were 22 times more likely to recommend knee-replacement to men than to women

- We are socialized to believe that women are more likely to have pain than men, or at least are more willing to complain of pain than men.

- Women under the age of 55 who are experiencing a heart attack are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed and sent home from the E.R - misdiagnosed with indigestion, anxiety or menopause

- A 2005 American Heart Association study showed, in fact, that only 8% of family physicians and – even worse! – just 17% of cardiologists were aware that heart disease kills more women than men

What do you think about all that?

Do you ever feel like your healthcare was different due to your gender?

Where do you think it starts?


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  • Gender bias is still happening in primary care. Women tend to be told their fatigue and ill health is due to stress, family responsibilities &/or menopause and are usually offered antidepressants rather than investigation of their symptoms.

    Pre-teen girls fail to be diagnosed with autism as they are more likely to be withdrawn and depresssed than disruptive and disorderly. Having said that, boys who aren't disruptive may also find it difficult to get an autism diagnosis.