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Integrating sex and gender considerations in biomedical, health and care research

Sex and gender play fundamental roles in individual and population health. Sex and gender influence the medical conditions people develop, the symptoms they experience, the treatments and quality of care they receive, their disease progression and their overall outcomes. Studying and understanding sex and gender differences and similarities is essential for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medicines and care, to improve the health of all people in the UK.  

High-quality, reproducible and inclusive biomedical, health and care research require consideration of sex and gender at every stage, from study design and recruitment to data analysis and transparent reporting of results. Unlike other high-income countries – notably Canada, the United States and European nations under Horizon Europe – the UK currently has no standard, unified guidance for researchers about how adequately to consider sex dimensions in cell and animal studies, and sex and gender dimensions in human studies.  

For this reason, we are working with the MESSAGEopens in new tab/window initiative to co-design a sex and gender policy which will be available from 2024. Culture change in this space is required in order to ensure rigorous, sustainable science and provide the most effective evidence to improve outcomes for patients and society, which Elsevier strongly supports.  

We are committed to providing support to our research community with guidance, skills and tools to ensure that future research meets the needs of all people, no matter their sex or gender. To achieve these goals, our actions are guided by our Inclusion and Diversity Advisory board, whose mission is to create a more equitable research ecosystem by:

  • Influencing and improving gender, racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion, and geographic representation in academic research, e.g., across Editorial Boards and peer review

  • Helping set standards and best practices for incorporating I&D principles in scientific research

  • Driving I&D initiatives that impact career progression in academia of underrepresented groups