Sex and gender differences
There is considerable evidence of women being undertreated or presenting diseases differently to men. However, not enough is being done to understand these differences, which is a critical first step in creating evidence-based policies, trainings and interventions that improve the recognition of sex differences and reduce gender inequities in health. Researchers and advocacy team members at the George Institute for Global Health are working to change this, both at the national and global levels.
This initiative, led by Professor Mark Woodward, focusses on sex and gender differences in heart disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes, sepsis, multimorbidity and food policy, together with a team of clinicians, epidemiologists and biostatisticians. Their discoveries include findings that several well-known biological risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension and diabetes, modify the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) differently in women and men. The team has also identified sex differences in access to important life-saving medications in patients who suffer heart attack. Their collective work has resulted in multiple publications in major academic journals. Members of the team are also interested in investigating whether non-biological risk factors, such as socio-economic status, affect NCD risk and outcomes differently in women and men, leading to health inequities.
Furthermore, the team advocates for policy changes, including required sex- and gender-specific reporting in academic journals and a more equitable balance of female and male patients in clinical trials. Collectively, the sex and gender research and advocacy initiative are improving the quality and amount of data that can help us describe sex and gender differences and develop an appropriate evidence-based response.