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Role of sex and gender in concussion outcome differences among patients presenting to the emergency department: a systematic review


Objective This systematic review aimed to identify research involving adults presenting to the emergency department (ED) with a concussion to document the reporting of sex and/or gender according to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) guidelines, the prevalence of sex and gender-based analysis (SGBA) and to summarise sex and/or gender-based differences in ED presentation, management and outcomes.

Design Systematic review.

Methods Electronic databases and grey literature were searched to identify studies that recruited adult patients with concussion from the ED. Two independent reviewers identified eligible studies, assessed quality and extracted data. A descriptive summary of the evidence was generated, and sex and/or gender reporting was examined for accuracy according to standardised criteria.

Results Overall, 126 studies were included in the analyses. A total of 80 (64%) studies reported sex and/or gender as demographic information, of which 51 (64%) included sex and/or gender in their analysis; however, 2 (3%) studies focused on an SGBA. Sex was more accurately reported in alignment with CIHR definitions than gender (94% vs 12%; p<0.0001). In total, 25 studies used an SGBA for outcomes of interest. Males and females experience different causes of concussion, 60% of studies documented that females had less frequent CT scanning while in the ED, and 57% of studies reported that postconcussion syndrome was more prevalent in females and women.

Conclusion This systematic review highlighted that sex is reported more accurately than gender, approximately half of studies did not report either sex and/or gender as demographic information, and one-third of studies did not include SGBA. There were important sex and gender differences in the cause, ED presentation, management and outcomes of concussions.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42021258613.

  • Concussion
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Systematic Review
  • Gender

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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