Assess Available Evidence for Sex, Gender, Diversity and Equity (1)

No matter what evidence you have and will use, you will need to assess how well it considers the core concepts of sex, gender, diversity and equity. We look at sex on this page and then gender, diversity, and equity on the following page.


Question: Does the evidence separate information by sex – males and females?

Often evidence is collected by sex but reported without mention of sex.

Example: here is how health data are often presented:

Fiscal Year Total Acute Myocardial Infarction Cases
Year 1 1,762
Year 2 1,684
Year 3 1,768
Year 4 1,845
Year 5 1,859
Years 1-5 8,918

If data have been adjusted for sex, it may have been done to make sure that differences in numbers of men and women from population to population are taken into account. This can be important information to get an overall picture. You will also want to see what the data look like unadjusted because that will help you understand the situation for women and for men separately.

Data recorded by sex is not a true representation of gender, but using and analyzing evidence by sex can be a first step in an SGBA.

Example: Consider one kind of evidence gathering

Randomized control trials are considered the gold standard for treatment and intervention research and evidence.

A systematic review is a method used to assess how well the evidence from different randomized control trial studies can be compared to each other and how well they answer a research question.

Systematic reviews sift through studies to ensure that the research methods used were alike and then assess the overall evidence.

But if the first studies do not report on sex and gender… and if the systematic reviews do not consider sex across the studies examined…

An analysis of systematic reviews on heart health revealed that the systematic reviews typically “rolled up” information about males and females together when looking at a number of studies together. If there was any original separation of data by sex, it was lost in the subsequent analyses.

As the authors noted, important differences in how women and men experience heart disease are missed when the evidence is not provided by sex.

“If we are going to rely on systematic reviews as the basis for decisions about patient care, health policy and regulation, (they) must routinely include information on sex and gender, including positive and negative results.” [1]

Source: [1] Boscoe, Doull & Runnels 2009. Sex and Gender in Systematic Reviews in Rising to the Challenge.

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