Study Finds ‘Gender Gap’ In Medical Research

Dr. Paula Johnson (courtesy)

Dr. Paula Johnson (courtesy)

A new study finds a “gender gap” in medical research. And the Boston researchers say that leads to an incomplete understanding of how health problems should be specifically treated in women.

The report from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital finds fewer women than men are involved in clinical trials on new drugs and medical devices.

Dr. Paula Johnson, a study co-author, says one problem is the research into heart disease, which is the biggest killer of women. She says doctors have not closely examined how the disease manifests itself differently in women rather than men.

“Today we don’t really understand why that happens,” Johnson told WBUR’s Deborah Becker in a Morning Edition interview. “And, in fact, even that knowledge isn’t being addressed in testing in women today in the clinics the way it should be.”

Johnson says government health agencies should warn women that some treatments have not been tested specifically on and for women.

“These are all important funding agencies that need to pay attention to including adequate numbers of women and also reporting the data by sex,” she said.

The study also calls on medical journals to address gender when their publish studies.

You can listen to Johnson’s interview on WBUR here:

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