No significant differences in the reporting of data on diverse sexual and gender identities (SGD) in dermatology research have occurred over the past decade and these data are underreported, according to the study results. published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The researchers sought to determine whether reporting of SGD data had increased in selected dermatology journals from 2007 to 2009 and from 2017 to 2019. They searched MEDLINE/PubMed for all articles published in the British Journal of Dermatology, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, JAMA Dermatology/Archives of Dermatologyand Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

For each period, 400 articles were randomly selected and included if they were original research with demographic data on patients aged 18 years or older. Articles were categorized as reporting data on sexual orientation if non-heterosexual identities or same-sex sexual behaviors were described. Articles were categorized as reporting gender diversity (GD) data if options other than male/male and female/female were described.


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A total of 448 articles (203 from 2007 to 2009 and 245 from 2017 to 2019) were included in the review, of which 37.3% were US studies. No significant increase was observed in reporting data on sexual orientation (0.5% [1/203] against 0.4% [1/245]respectively; P = 1) or GD data ratio (0% [0/203] against 0% [0/245]; P = 1.0) in a comparison of the 2 time periods.

In the studies, 1 article focused specifically on SGD populations. Sexually diverse (SD) individuals comprised 0.02% (2,380/10,887,182) and GD individuals 0.0% (0/10,887,182) of all research participants. Collectively, the papers failed to identify approximately 381,052 SD individuals and 32,662 GD individuals, according to the investigators’ estimate.

Under-reporting of SGD data may result from undue confusion of sex and gender as the same entity rather than discrete demographic characteristics and insufficient awareness of the importance of inclusive data collection in scientific research, the researchers said.

Selected articles may not represent other reviews and may not be powerful enough to detect differences, the investigators noted as a potential limitation of the study.

“Our study suggests underreporting of SGD-specific data, which may compromise sufficient understanding” of the needs of the SGD population, the study authors concluded. “Dermatology journals should emphasize the importance of SGD data collection while advocating for research infrastructure and policies that intentionally and explicitly include SGD identities to better identify and meet the dermatological needs of these marginalized populations.”

Reference

Boothby-Shoemaker W, Mansh M, Sternhell-Blackwell K, Klint Peebles J. Inclusion of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Dermatology Research: A Ten-Year Analysis. J Am Acad Dermatol. Published online March 29, 2022. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2022.03.04