Gender Differences in Authorship and Quality of Anesthesia Clinical Practice Guidelines From 2016 to 2020 Using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II Instrument

Anesth Analg. 2024 May 20. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000006803. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Women continue to be underrepresented in academic anesthesiology. This study assessed guidelines in anesthesia journals over the past 5 years, evaluating differences in woman-led versus man-led guidelines in terms of author gender, quality, and changes over time. We hypothesized that anesthesia guidelines would be predominately man-led, and that there would be differences in quality between woman-led versus man-led guidelines.

Methods: All clinical practice guidelines published in the top 10 anesthesia journals were identified as per Clarivate Analytics Impact Factor between 2016 and 2020. Fifty-one guidelines were included for author, gender, and quality analysis using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research & Evaluation (AGREE) II instrument. Each guideline was assessed across 6 domains and 23 items and given an overall score, overall quality score, and overall rating/recommendation. Stratified and trend analyses were performed for woman-led versus man-led guidelines.

Results: Fifty out of 51 guidelines were included: 1 was excluded due to unidentifiable first-author gender. In total, 255 of 1052 (24%) authors were women, and woman-led guidelines (woman-first author) represented 12 of 50 (24%) overall guidelines. Eighteen percent (9 of 50) of guidelines had all-male authors, and a majority (26 of 50, 52%) had less than one-third of female authors. The overall number and percentage of woman-led guidelines did not change over time. There was a significantly higher percentage of female authors in woman-led versus man-led guidelines, median 39% vs 20% (P = .012), as well as a significantly higher number of female coauthors in guidelines that were woman-led median 3.5 vs 1.0, P = .049. For quality, there was no significant difference in the overall rating or objective quality of woman- versus man-led guidelines. However, there was a significant increase in the overall rating of all the guidelines over time (P = .010), driven by the increase in overall rating among man-led guidelines, P = .002. The overall score of guidelines did not increase over time; however, they increased in man-led but not woman-led guidelines. There was no significant correlation between the percentage of female authors per guideline and either overall score or overall rating.

Conclusions: There is a substantial disparity in the number of women leading and contributing to guidelines which has not improved over time. Woman-led guidelines included more women and a higher percentage of women. There was no difference in quality of guidelines by first-author gender or percentage of female authors. Further systematic and quota-driven sponsorship is needed to promote gender equity, diversity, and inclusion in anesthesia guidelines.