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Letter to the Editor   |    
Research on Women
ARNOLD ROBBINS, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:2093-a-2094. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.12.2093-a

To the Editor: I am writing to express my strong disagreement with the tone, nature, and assumptions of the one-sided editorial by Nada Stotland (1). According to studies by Bartlett (2, 3), of all National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trials on humans published in the United States between 1966 and 1990, there were 753 studies involving men and 854 involving women. According to Dickersin and Min (4), an analysis of all 293 clinical trials funded by NIH in 1979 revealed that 268 included both men and women, 12 were of men only, and 13 were of women only. Hayunga et al. (5) provided the following statistics for NIH single-sex studies in 1994: there were 219 studies of women and 95 studies of men. In 1997 the figures had reached 740 studies of women and 244 studies of men (6).

But looking now at the broader picture, it is certainly useful to study specific populations: young versus old, tall versus short, Mediterranean versus Anglo-Saxon, Jewish versus Christian, high IQ versus low IQ, active versus inactive, men versus women, and black versus white or Asian. The questions are, How useful is this? and How should we spend precious and diminishing research dollars? When observed in these terms (and while we are being practical, focused, and thoughtful), doing gender-based studies is generally unwarranted, with important exceptions. Far more vital concerns draw our attention, and that’s as it should be—unless, of course, one is more interested in a political agenda and willing to sacrifice judgment and good sense trying to substantiate that particular world view.

Stotland N: Gender-based biology (editorial). Am J Psychiatry  2001; 158:161-162
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Bartlett EE: Did medical research routinely exclude women? an examination of the evidence. Epidemiology  2001; 12:584-586
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Bartlett EE: Were Women Excluded From Medical Research? Rhetoric and Reality. Rockville, Md, Men’s Health America, Nov 15, 2000
 
Dickersin K, Min YI: NIH clinical trials and publication bias. Online J Curr Clin Trials, April 28, 1993, document 50, pp 16-17
 
Hayunga EG: Including women in minorities in clinical research: part 4: demographics of study populations. Applied Clinical Trials 1997; 6(1):41-45
 
US General Accounting Office: Women’s Health, GAO/HEHS-00-96. Washington, DC, GAO, May 2000
 
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References

Stotland N: Gender-based biology (editorial). Am J Psychiatry  2001; 158:161-162
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Bartlett EE: Did medical research routinely exclude women? an examination of the evidence. Epidemiology  2001; 12:584-586
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Bartlett EE: Were Women Excluded From Medical Research? Rhetoric and Reality. Rockville, Md, Men’s Health America, Nov 15, 2000
 
Dickersin K, Min YI: NIH clinical trials and publication bias. Online J Curr Clin Trials, April 28, 1993, document 50, pp 16-17
 
Hayunga EG: Including women in minorities in clinical research: part 4: demographics of study populations. Applied Clinical Trials 1997; 6(1):41-45
 
US General Accounting Office: Women’s Health, GAO/HEHS-00-96. Washington, DC, GAO, May 2000
 
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