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Female under-representation in sepsis studies: a bibliometric analysis of systematic reviews and guidelines

      Abstract

      Objectives

      The objective of the study was to assess female representation in primary studies underpinning recommendations from clinical guidelines and systematic reviews for sepsis treatment in adults.

      Study Design and Setting

      We conducted a bibliometric study. We removed studies pertaining to sex-specific diseases and included quasirandomized, randomized clinical trials (RCTs), and observational studies. We analyzed the female participation-to-prevalence ratio (PPR).

      Results

      We included 277 studies published between 1973 and 2017. For the 246 studies for which sex data were available, the share of female participation was 40%. Females overall were under-represented relative to their share of the sepsis population (PPR 0.78). Disaggregated results were reported by sex in 57 studies. In univariate analyses, non–intensive care unit setting and consideration of other social health determinants were significantly associated with greater female participation (P < 0.001 and P = 0.023, respectively). In regression models, studies published in 1996 or later were likely to report sex, while RCTs were unlikely to do so (P = 0.019 and P < 0.001, respectively).

      Conclusion

      Our study points to female underenrollment in sepsis studies. Primary studies underpinning recommendations for sepsis have poorly reported their findings by sex.

      Keywords

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