Sexual and Gender Diverse Identities Data Under-Reported in Dermatology Research

CARDIFF, WALES – AUGUST 24: A LGBT rainbow flag during Pride Cymru 2019 on August 24, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales. Pride Cymru aims to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender and promote LGBT+ equality and diversity within Wales. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Researchers sought to determine whether sexual and gender diverse data reporting increased in select dermatology journals from 2007 to 2009 and 2017 to 2019.

No significant differences in sexual and gender diverse (SGD) identities data reporting in dermatology research have occurred during the last decade and such data are under-reported, according to study findings published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Researchers sought to determine whether SGD data reporting increased in select dermatology journals from 2007 to 2009 and 2017 to 2019. They searched MEDLINE/PubMed for all articles published in the British Journal of Dermatology, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, JAMA Dermatology/Archives of Dermatology, and Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

For each time period, 400 articles were randomly selected and included if they were original research with demographic data on patients aged 18 years or older. The articles were classified as reporting sexual orientation data if nonheterosexual identities or participant same-sex sexual behaviors were described. Articles were categorized as reporting gender diverse (GD) data if options other than male/man and female/woman were described.

A total of 448 articles (203 from 2007 to 2009 and 245 from 2017 to 2019) were included in the analysis, 37.3% of which were US studies. No significant increase was observed in sexual orientation data reporting (0.5% [1/203] vs 0.4% [1/245], respectively; P = 1) or GD data reporting (0% [0/203] vs 0% [0/245]; P = 1.0) in a comparison of the 2 time periods.

In the studies, 1 article specifically focused on SGD populations. Sexually diverse (SD) individuals represented 0.02% (2,380/10,887,182) and GD individuals 0.0% (0/10,887,182) of all research participants. Collectively, the articles did not identify about 381,052 SD and 32,662 GD individuals, according to the investigators’ estimate.

Under-reporting of SGD data may result from undue conflation of sex and gender as the same entity rather than discrete demographic characteristics and insufficient awareness of the importance of inclusive data collection in scientific research, stated the researchers.

The selected articles may not represent other journals and may be underpowered to detect differences, the investigators noted as a potential study limitation.

“Our study suggests under-reporting of SGD-specific data, which may compromise sufficient understanding” of the needs of the SGD population, concluded the study authors. “Dermatology journals should emphasize SGD data collection importance while advocating for research infrastructures and policies that are intentionally and explicitly inclusive of SGD identities to better identify and meet the dermatologic needs of these marginalized populations.”


Boothby-Shoemaker W, Mansh M, Sternhell-Blackwell K, Klint Peebles J. Sexual orientation and gender identity inclusion in dermatology research: a ten-year analysis. J Am Acad Dermatol. Published online March 29, 2022. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2022.03.04