Gender parity in heart failure research calls for more women authors and patients

An analysis led by Penn Medicine identifies gender disparities in authorship of heart failure guideline citations and clinical trials.

While about a quarter of physicians and researchers working in advanced heart failure (HF) and transplant cardiology are women, representation of women leading HF research remains limited, according to new research led by Penn Medicine. The authors say the findings point to a need to support great gender diversity among researchers to drive diversity among clinical trial participants and even improve patient outcomes.

The analysis, published in Circulation: Heart Failure, showed that less than 20% of first authors on manuscripts cited to support the highest recommendations in HF treatment guidelines were women, and less than 15% of the senior authors were women. Furthermore, only 16% of contemporary clinical trials in HF had a woman as a first or senior author. The research is the first of its kind to explore gender disparities in authorship of HF guideline citations and clinical trials.

Medical professional in mask and PPE holding up a stethoscope in a hospital room.

Despite this lack of representation in authorship, researchers found that clinical trials with higher proportions of women authors had a higher number of female participants—aligning with a longstanding priority from federal organizations to increase the enrollment of women in clinical trials.

“Diversity in authorship can have a snowball effect across the field—not only in improving gender equity in cardiovascular medicine, but also perhaps in reducing the underrepresentation of women in clinical trials,” says Nosheen Reza, the study’s lead author, an instructor of cardiovascular medicine, and advanced HF and transplant cardiologist in the Perelman School of Medicine. “For many reasons, institutions are now taking a hard look at improving diversity, inclusion, and equity, and our findings represent benchmarking data that organizations can utilize and build from.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.