Sex and gender publications in brain health: a mapping review of the Asia-Pacific region

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2024 Feb 24. doi: 10.1159/000537946. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Reporting of sex and gender analysis in medical research has been shown to improve quality of the science and ensures findings are applicable to women and men. There is conflicting evidence on whether efforts by funding agencies and medical journals to encourage reporting of sex and gender analysis has resulted in tangible improvements. This study mapped the inclusion of sex and gender analysis in stroke and dementia research conducted in the Asia-Pacific region.

Methods: A systematic search for Asia-Pacific stroke and dementia research was conducted in PubMed and papers included from the period 2012 to 2022. Eligible studies were reviewed for inclusion of a primary sex or gender focus and categorized by type of sex and gender analysis. Author gender was determined using an algorithm and its associations with inclusion of sex and gender analysis examined.

Results: Total Asia-Pacific publications increased from 109 in 2012 to 313 in 2022, but the rate of studies with a primary sex or gender focus did not increase significantly (R2 = 0.06, F(1,9) = 0.59, p = 0.46). Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea produced the most publications over the study period and were the only countries with at least 50 publications. The impact of author gender was mixed, with female first authorship associated with inclusion of sex or gender analysis and last female authorship associated with studies having a primary sex or gender focus.

Conclusions: In the Asia-Pacific, brain health research is currently centered around high income countries and efforts are needed to ensure research findings are applicable through out the region. While there was a general increase in brain health publications over the last decade, the rate of sex and gender analysis was unchanged. This demonstrates that even with efforts in some countries in place, there is currently a lack of progress in the Asia-Pacific region to produce more research focusing on sex and gender analysis.