December 22 2010

When Separate Is More Equal

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Center for Health and Community, and Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco.

JAMA. 2010;304(24):2738-2739. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1865

Women constitute slightly more than half the population of the United States, but biomedical research has yielded less information on their health than that of men. Despite efforts in the past 2 decades to correct the balance, clinical practice and treatment of diseases other than those occurring primarily or exclusively in women are disproportionately based on research using male models of disease and male participants.

Male bias in research is implicit, and its effects are subtle but pervasive. It is seen more clearly when the entire landscape of health research is surveyed. This overview was taken by a recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee and summarized in the report Women's Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise.1 The report pointed to progress in the conduct of studies specifically involving women and their greater inclusion as research participants. However, it also noted that women are still underrepresented in the design, conduct, and analysis of studies and that these gaps have limited the utility of their findings for improving women's health.

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