The European Journal of Psychotraumatology has mandated sex and gender data for all papers before they will be published. Editor-in-Chief Miranda Olff and Shirin Heidari, a member of the European Association of Science Editors’ Gender Policy Committee, drafted the new guidelines they believe will have significant implications for the collective understanding of sex and gender-based differences in mental health research, and eventually impact treatment plans – both in terms of medication prescribed and psychotherapeutic approaches taken.
Every article published in EJPT must now:
disclose the gender of research subjects
justify single sex studies
discriminate between sex and gender per current social guidelines
discuss how sex or gender impact the results
discuss sex and gender issues when relevant
Olff said “We know, for instance, that there are differences in the neurobiology of stress responses between men and women. In brain research, less then 2 percent of studies include female subjects (both human and animal). Our oxytocin research is a perfect example of where we observe sex-based variances.”
The reason to also note gender differences is because “When it comes to stress responses, women are more likely to seek social support than are men; and the lack of social support is the strongest risk factor for PTSD.”
More women suffer from PTSD than men, said Olff, “because of differences both in neurobiological and psychosocial areas.”
Requiring researchers to report details regarding sex and gender in their studies, she believes, will lead to much deeper understanding of how the two influence the condition.
“At this point, we know very little about how these differences, both in terms of sex and gender, affect treatment of say, PTSD; some studies indicate female PTSD patients might benefit more from psychotherapy but there have been few studies to date rigorously addressing the issue,” said Olff.