Monday, December 13, 2010

Sex on PubMed

I note that on PubMed Limits today they've changed the heading of the binary Male/Female check boxes from 'Gender' to 'Sex.' I just noticed it today, I mean--I'm not sure exactly when they did it.

Interesting. It always kind of bugged me that they called that very useful limit 'gender', since in many (though not all) health-related contexts, I see 'gender' used to describe social roles, and 'sex' used to describe biological distinctions. And in most cases, I think the thing that's going to be most likely to be in play for biomedical literature searches is the biological distinctions.

Say, if you're purely interested in whether a biological male is more likely to get kidney stones than a biological female, you don't especially need to care about the person's gender identity. Obviously it would apply to how you provide sensitive care and so forth, but does it affect the biological likelihood of kidney stones?

Well honestly, I have no idea, not being a doctor, but I suspect possibly not.

I'm one of those irritating people who, when someone asks a pregnant woman "do you know the gender?" always thinks pedantically,'probably not, although you can hazard a guess if you know the sex.'

I'd be even more popular than I am if I actually said that out loud, right? I'll have to try it sometime.

Now if PubMed were more into psychology, I would expect them to be all about gender. I should look at PsycINFO and see if they actually are.


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