This issues Publisher's Note focuses on a manuscript regarding gender equity on oncology guideline panels.
As we turn the page and enter a new year, we often reflect on the past 12 months while also looking forward to what’s on the horizon. Equality in health care, for example, was brought to the fore in recent months due to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic aggravating existing disparities in the health care sector. In this issue of ONCOLOGY®, Thejaswi K. Poonacha, MD, MBA, and colleagues, spotlighted female representation on professional panels for clinical practice guidelines in oncology to determine how discrepancies may correlate with poorer outcomes in patients.
A review of major guidelines from organizations such as the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) revealed that although female representation has increased during the past 10 years, overall participation remains below 30%. Other trends included greater progress toward female inclusion on panels in the United States vs Europe and increased female representation on professional panels for NCCN guidelines for hematologic malignancies and ESMO guidelines for breast and ovarian cancers.
After an overall assessment of NCCN guideline panels, the investigators concluded that gender parity had been achieved, with 55.5% of panelists across 60 clinical practice guidelines being female. However, they added that women in positions of leadership overall are still lacking, which may, at least in part, account for underrepresentation on certain panels for clinical practice guidelines outside of women’s cancers and hematologic malignancies.
In conclusion, the authors noted that the greatest impact of gender equality on important oncology panels such as those for clinical practice guidelines is the resulting potential for better outcomes in medicine.
The editors of the journal applaud the authors and hope this research and others like it will help raise awareness about gaps in equality among practicing clinicians in the oncology space. Keep up with our latest issues of the journal ONCOLOGY® for more on this and other breaking topics.