Mainstreaming Sex and Gender Analysis in Public Health Genomics

Petra Verdonk*, Ineke Klinge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The integration of genome-based knowledge into public health or public health genomics (PHG) aims to contribute to disease prevention, health promotion, and risk reduction associated with genetic disease susceptibility. Men and women differ, for instance, in susceptibilities for heart disease, obesity, or depression due to biologic (sex) and sociocultural (gender) factors and their interaction. Genome-based knowledge is rapidly increasing, but sex and gender issues are often not explored. Objective: To explore the implications of a sex and gender analysis for PHG. Methods: We explore genome-based knowledge in relation to sex and gender aspects using depression as an example, gender equality, and the intersection of sex and gender with other social stratifiers such as ethnic background or socioeconomic status. Results: We advocate a sex- and gender-sensitive genomics research agenda alongside studies that provide sex-disaggregated data rather than controls based on sex. Such a research agenda is needed to guide research on how genomics is understood and perceived by men and women across groups, and for the equitable and responsible translation of such knowledge into the public health domain. Conclusions: Including sex and gender analysis in PHG research will not only shed more light on phenomena such as diseases with a higher prevalence in either men or women, but will ultimately lead to gendered innovations by way of exploring how gendered and cultural environments increase or safeguard genetic predispositions. (Gend Med. 2012;9:402-410)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-410
JournalGender Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • gender mainstreaming
  • intersectionality
  • public health
  • public health genomics
  • sex and gender analysis


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