Even though the observation that men and women are different is arguably as old as human life, women have been included in clinical trials for only a few decades. Women have a unique physiology and their experience of illness, and responses to therapeutic interventions are often significantly different from those of men. Recent regulations from the National Institutes of Health requiring grant applicants to consider sex as a variable in biomedical research are a welcome development.1 However, despite increasing evidence that an individual’s sex is one the most important modulators of disease risk and response to treatment, consideration of the patient’s sex in clinical decision making (including the choice of diagnostic tests, medications, and other treatments) is often lacking. This is surprising given the increasing interest in precision medicine, which should begin with attention to sex differences in medicine.
Legato MJ, Johnson PA, Manson JE. Consideration of Sex Differences in Medicine to Improve Health Care and Patient Outcomes. JAMA. 2016;316(18):1865–1866. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.13995