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Gender Gaps in Research

A gender gap has existed in much of the past research that has been done on mental health disorders. Populations have been excluded from pharmacological and psychotherapy trials.

For example:

  • Women of childbearing age were excluded from early phases of drug trials until 1993 [1]. Many trials afterwards failed to distinguish between male and female responses to drugs. Studies addressing the female response to medications are now emerging[2].

  • Men are under-represented in psychotherapy trials[3].


You are interested in mental issues and wish to conduct a study comparing men and women with regards to major depressive disorder.


What are 3 possible research questions you could ask? (They could be biological, social, pharmacological…points for creativity, and no points will be lost if the research is already out there!)

  • More research is needed in men and women at different life stages to determine the effect of reproductive biology on treatment efficacy.

  • More research needed on sex differences and chronicity of depression.

  • More research needed on how socially constructed gender roles relate to depression.

  • More research needed on how culture/religion/other factors add further dimension to gender roles.

  • More research is needed into the economic consequences of depression in men and women

  • More research is needed on depression and access to health care and social support resources.


1. Merkatz, RB (1993). Women in clinical trials of new drugs: A change in food and drug administration policy. New England Journal of Medicine 329: 292-296.

2. Cohen LS (2003). Gender-Specific Considerations in the treatment of mood disorders in Women across the Life cycle. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 64 (suppl 15): 18-29

3. Thase ME, Reynolds CF, Frank E, Simons AD, McGeary J, Fasiczka AL, Garamoni GG, Jennings JR, Kupfer DJ (1994). Do depressed men and women respond similarly to cognitive behaviour therapy? American Journal of Psychiatry; 151:500-505.

All references for this section