Publication Date


Document Type



Sex-based differences are a common area of study in health research, specifically in relation to disease manifestation and treatment. Hormonal makeup, genetic factors, and reproductive organs are a few factors lumped under the definition of sex while broad and varying social paradigms are examined as a framework for gender or excluded altogether. Operational definitions of sex and/or gender were compared within varying sectors of healthcare in western medicine, elucidating the differences in medical research practices overall. This content analysis shows limitations in how current studies define what sex characteristics are being examined, how sex/gender are defined, and if these distinctions are relevant. Studies often conflate sex and gender while failing to address the unique and often independent factors that contribute to their influences on the conditions being examined. These discrepancies create murky findings that often leave out intersex and transgender people from receiving adequate medical care and do not allow for differences within cisgender dyadic individuals. This preliminary study aims to review how sex and gender were operationally defined in previous healthcare studies, determine how sex and gender data were collected and reported from participants, and suggest a protocol to standardize data collection for these characteristics in future studies.



Download Full Text (322 KB)

Let's Talk About Sex...and Gender: The Varying Ways in Which Sex and Gender are Operationally Defined in Current Medical Research