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|Issue 105||January 2016|
The report is a product of the VA/HSR&D Evidence Synthesis Program.
Gender Differences in Intervention Effects for High-Impact Conditions among Women Veterans
Women are entering the military at unprecedented rates and comprise a rapidly increasing segment of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) enrollees. In response, the VHA Women's Health Service requested an evidence map to:
Using a stakeholder-driven approach to identify high-priority conditions and interventions, an initial list of 36 conditions was used to identify 3 for evaluation: depressive disorders, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and chronic pain conditions (chronic low back pain [CLBP], chronic knee osteoarthritis [OA], and fibromyalgia [FM]). Treatments were evaluated in broad categories, including medications, behavioral interventions, supervised exercise, and quality improvement interventions, along with certain condition-specific interventions.
The report was created by the Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) Center at the Durham Veterans Affairs Healthcare System and included evidence from 313 systematic reviews. Among eligible reviews, 268 systematic reviews underwent full data abstraction: 86 addressing interventions for depression, 114 addressing diabetes, and 68 addressing the three chronic pain conditions. A summary of the results is outlined in Table 1.
While there were a large number of systematic reviews included in the evidence, fewer than half summarized the sex distribution of the populations of the included studies, although women were well-represented in the reviews where those data were shown. The authors point out that sex effects were reported in only 10% of eligible reviews, and individual patient data (IPD) meta-analysis—the analysis method best suited to evaluate sex effects—was rarely used (n=16 of 268 abstracted reviews, 6%).Table 1. Summary of Sex Effects Identified in Systematic Reviews
a Findings are from IPD meta-analysis.
The authors also note that while there is a large body of evidence for many of the examined interventions—particularly medications, psychotherapy, and exercise—systematic reviews and primary randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examined sex effects infrequently. When examined, sex effects generally favored greater benefits in women, but the report concludes that differential effects were small and the analysis approaches were often less than ideal. The report suggests that all future RCTs and systematic reviews should identify the proportion of men and women enrolled, and sex effects should be examined in adequately powered RCTs or IPD meta-analyses.
View the full report — **VA Intranet only**:
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A cyberseminar on "Mapping the Evidence: Sex and Gender Differences in Treatments for Depression, Diabetes, and Chronic Pain" was held on December 9, 2015 and can be accessed 24/7 in the HSR&D cyberseminar archives.
Please feel free to forward this information to others!
ESP is currently soliciting review topics from the broader VA community. Nominations will be accepted electronically using the online Topic Submission Form. If your topic is selected for a synthesis, you will be contacted by an ESP Center to refine the questions and determine a timeline for the report.
This Management e-Brief is provided to inform you about recent HSR&D findings that may be of interest. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you have any questions or comments about this Brief, please email CIDER. The Center for Information Dissemination and Education Resources (CIDER) is a VA HSR&D Resource Center charged with disseminating important HSR&D findings and information to policy makers, managers, clinicians, and researchers working to improve the health and care of Veterans.
This report is a product of VA/HSR&D's Quality Enhancement Research Initiative's (QUERI) Evidence-Based Synthesis Program (ESP), which was established to provide timely and accurate synthesis of targeted healthcare topics of particular importance to VA managers and policymakers – and to disseminate these reports throughout VA.
See all reports online.