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Considerations of sex and gender dimensions by research ethics committees: a scoping review

Abha Saxena, Emily Lasher, Claire Somerville, Shirin Heidari

OXFORD Academic, International Health - January 18, 2022

Despite a growing consensus on the importance of integrating sex and gender in health research, research across disciplines continues to be conducted and reported without a gender focus. Research ethics committees (RECs) can play a particularly powerful role in identifying the gender gaps at an early stage of the development of research protocols. Their role is missing in the dialogue related to improving gender awareness and analysis in health research. A scoping review was conducted to examine the extent to which RECs discuss and consider the inclusion and analysis of sex and gender in health research and to examine the literature regarding the gender balance of RECs. The limited literature around gender and research ethics reveals the power and potential of RECs to ensure that gender dimensions are thoughtfully included in health research, and sheds light on the gaps that exist. These include an under-representation of women on RECs, a lack of awareness of the importance of gender-related aspects in health research and a paucity of gender-related training to RECs. Guidelines such as the Sex and Gender Equity in Research guidelines are required for RECs to strengthen the ways in which health research is gendered from conception of a research protocol to its publication. Continue reading

Men and COVID-19: where’s the policy?

Peter Baker, Clara Alemann, Stephen Burrell, Derek M. Griffith, Shirin Heidari, Jasmine Kelland, Arush Lal, Sushmita Mukherjee

BMJ Global Health - April 24, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has refocused attention on many health inequalities, not least those related to gender. Globally, men and women are thought to be infected with COVID-19 in roughly equal numbers. But, overall, men are 40% more likely than women to die from COVID-19 and almost three times more likely to require admission to an intensive treatment unit.

Men of colour and men in lower-income groups have suffered particularly high mortality rates. Men’s mental health and wellbeing has suffered in many countries and, at the same time, non-governmental organisations that focus on engaging and supporting men have experienced funding pressures that may lead to reduced services. Continue reading

Inadequate reporting of COVID-19 clinical studies: a renewed rationale for the Sex and Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelines

Alice Palmer-Ross, Pavel V Ovseiko, Shirin Heidari

BMJ Global Health - April 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the implications of sex and gender differences to human health and well-being.1 Evidence to date indicates that men are at higher risk of severe disease and death than women, while women seem more likely to suffer from long-term COVID-19, and experience negative social and economic impacts.2 3 Biological sex as well as gender roles and behaviours can affect exposure to the virus and influence the prevalence of pre-existing conditions or harmful habits.Incorporating sex and gender considerations into clinical research on COVID-19 from the outset would help to identify differential patterns of risk, underlying reasons for disparate outcomes and to develop interventions to effectively respond to the various needs of women and men.  Continue reading 

Research in forced displacement: guidance for a feminist and decolonial approach

Neha S Singh, Michelle Lokot, Chi-Chi Undie, Monica A Onyango, Rosemary Morgan, Anne Harmer, Jane Freedman, Shirin Heidari

The Lancet - February 13, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened inequities and undermined health, human rights, and gender equality for forcibly displaced populations. The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that, at the end of 2019, there were 79·5 million people forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, or events seriously disturbing public order. Evidence about the needs of these populations is crucial to tailor effective and equitable responses, but data collection efforts are faced with considerable new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many researchers are attempting to overcome such challenges by collecting data remotely, but doing so creates ethical and practical concerns that risk perpetuating gender, racial, and other inequities.  Continue reading 

VIEWPOINT An Invitation to a Feminist Approach to Global Health Data

Shirin Heidari, Heather Doyle

Health and Human rights Journal - December 2020

The notable gendered socioeconomic, health, and human rights implications of COVID-19 have sparked a renewed conversation on gender data gaps and the risks of gender-blind responses that ignore structural determinants of health and undermine social justice goals. Higher mortality among men, disproportionate social, economic, and health effects on ethnic and racial minorities, high infection rates among the predominantly female health workforce, the rise in violence against women and people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities, the heavy burden of unpaid care on women, and diminished access to essential services such as sexual and reproductive health services are some of the factors that bring to the fore the urgency of capturing disparities and delivering a gender transformative and equitable response to the pandemic. Continue reading 

Towards the real-time inclusion of sex- and age-disaggregated data in pandemic responses

Shirin Heidari, Claudia Ahumada, Ziyoda Kurbanova, GENDRO Gender, Evidence and Health Network

BMJ Global Health - October 2020

Early data provide evidence that sex and gender are important factors that intersect with each other and with other social determinants to influence susceptibility and vulnerability to COVID-19. Sex and gender, along with other key variables such as age, can influence disease progression, outcome and access to services, as well as social, psychological and economic impacts. Similar patterns have been observed in other global outbreaks (eg, HIV, Ebola, Zika) where a complex interplay of gender and other dimensions of vulnerability have resulted in disparate health outcomes. Continue reading 

Shirin Heidari, Vivienne C Bachelet

The Lancet - October 27, 2018

Despite growing recognition of the imperative to address gender disparities and inequity in health, researchers, funders, and editors do not treat the gendered aspects of health research and practice as a priority. It is unacceptable that members of the scientific community, who are putatively committed to rigour and objectivity, undervalue the importance of the gender bias in academic research and neglect to act. Continue reading 

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