There is increasing recognition of sex/gender differences in health and the importance of identifying differential effects of interventions for men and women. Yet, to whom the research evidence does or does not apply, with regard to sex/gender, is often insufficiently answered. This is also true for systematic reviews which synthesize results of primary studies. A lack of analysis and reporting of evidence on sex/gender raises concerns about the applicability of systematic reviews. To bridge this gap, this pilot study aimed to translate knowledge about sex/gender analysis (SGA) into a user-friendly ‘briefing note’ format and evaluate its potential in aiding the implementation of SGA in systematic reviews.
Our Sex/Gender Methods Group used an interactive process to translate knowledge about sex/gender into briefing notes, a concise communication tool used by policy and decision makers. The briefing notes were developed in collaboration with three Cochrane Collaboration review groups (HIV/AIDS, Hypertension, and Musculoskeletal) who were also the target knowledge users of the briefing notes. Briefing note development was informed by existing systematic review checklists, literature on sex/gender, in-person and virtual meetings, and consultation with topic experts. Finally, we held a workshop for potential users to evaluate the notes.
Each briefing note provides tailored guidance on considering sex/gender to reviewers who are planning or conducting systematic reviews and includes the rationale for considering sex/gender, with examples specific to each review group’s focus. Review authors found that the briefing notes provided welcome guidance on implementing SGA that was clear and concise, but also identified conceptual and implementation challenges.
Sex/gender briefing notes are a promising knowledge translation tool. By encouraging sex/gender analysis and equity considerations in systematic reviews, the briefing notes can assist systematic reviewers in ensuring the applicability of research evidence, with the goal of improved health outcomes for diverse populations.
Copyright © (2014) Doull, M. et al. Abstract reprinted by AIR in compliance with the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/.