On the International Women’s day 2024, Women’s Brain Project is announcing the continuation of the groundbreaking research “Sex, Gender, and the Brain: Towards an Inclusive Research Agenda”, launched on March 8, 2023. This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #InspireInclusion, should thus extend how we understand and respond to variances in brain health.  

The continuation of research was done by WBP in collaboration with researchers from the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and focused on understanding how sex and gender differences in brain and mental disease impact patients and research outcomes. The main outcome of this work was about understanding both direct and indirect costs related to brain and mental diseases, including loss of productivity and quality of life. In this context, sex- and gender-specific outcomes from biomedical research were shown to influence productivity, as well as national economic outcomes, both directly and indirectly. 

Building on this learning, our new study done in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Political Science is aimed at estimating the economic impact of sex and gender characteristics on dementia, with a specific focus on Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, specifically in the UK. 

We have completed a literature review, examining sex and gender differences in access, quality of care, and effectiveness of treatment in dementia. Furthermore, we have interviewed experts in both Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, which revealed different cultural interpretations and new insights. These interviews also confirmed previous observations, such as the fact that women are less likely to come forward for diagnosis and treatment. 

Our economic analysis showed that actions can be taken to reduce sex/gender differences in dementia risk by targeting interventions that particularly benefit women. For example, we showed the impact of increasing women’s participation in physical activity and its effect on dementia incidence, relative to men, and the associated health and social care costs.  

Furthermore, we developed a modelling framework to quantify the economic impact of different treatment schemes on women of childbearing age living with Multiple Sclerosis. The current situation in the UK (and commonly elsewhere too) is for women not to get access to the most effective, safe medications during pregnancy. 

This work will be included in peer-reviewed scientific publications. We will also be presenting two different abstracts with preliminary results at Alzheimer’s Disease International conference in April 2024. By documenting and sharing more evidence on the gender and sex differences in brain health, this study aims to ensure policy and practice responses are more inclusive and gender sensitive. 

For further information, please contact at: info@womensbrainproject.com

For more detailed insights about our previous work, please refer to the full paper available here. https://impact.economist.com/perspectives/sites/default/files/womensbrainproject_report_230306.pdf 

About the Women’s Brain Project: 

WBP is an international organisation studying sex and gender determinants of brain and mental health to achieve precision medicine and care. WBP is a global leading player in the field of brain research, supporting innovative science, precision medicine and care, unbiased AI and promoting gender health equity to make healthcare systems more sustainable. For more information, please visit: https://www.womensbrainproject.com 

About the Women’s Brain Project Foundation: 

WBP is in the process of establishing a foundation that will operate as the world’s first Research Institute for Sex and Gender Precision Medicine. For more information, please visit: https://www.womensbrainproject.com  

About the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science: 

The Care Policy and Evaluation Centre (CPEC) was established at LSE in 1996 (CPEC changed its name from PSSRU in 2019). The Centre has 60 researchers and 13 professional services staff working on c.80 research projects – on social care, mental health, disabilities, children and families, carers and long-term health issues. CPEC has a strong reputation for economics research on policy and practice issues in health and social care, in the UK and internationally. For more information, please visit: https://www.lse.ac.uk/cpec

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