Alzheimer's Society EDI Statement of Intent

Alzheimer's Society is today publishing a statement of intent signalling our support for the introduction of dedicated sex and gender policies for biomedical, health and care research in the UK.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in dementia research is vital because dementia affects everyone. We know that women are more likely to be affected by dementia, both directly and as carers, however have been under represented in past dementia research.

There also needs to be a significant increase in research which includes transgender and intersex populations. Inclusive research ensures future breakthroughs apply to everyone, promoting a better understanding of the diseases that cause dementia and the development of inclusive solutions to improve how we diagnose, treat and care for everyone who is affected by dementia, now and in the future.

Integrating sex and gender considerations in UK biomedical, health and care research

Sex and gender play fundamental roles in individual and population health. Sex and gender influence the medical conditions people develop, the symptoms they experience, the treatments and quality of care they receive, their disease progression and their overall outcomes.

Studying and understanding sex and gender differences and similarities is essential for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medicines and care, to improve the health of all people in the UK. 

High-quality, reproducible and inclusive biomedical, health and care research requires consideration of sex and gender at every stage, from study design and recruitment to data analysis and transparent reporting of results.

Unlike other high-income countries – notably Canada, the United States and European nations under Horizon Europe – the UK currently has no standard, unified guidance for researchers about how adequately to consider sex dimensions in cell and animal studies, and sex and gender dimensions in human studies.

The UK’s Medical Science Sex and Gender Equity (MESSAGE) initiative has co-designed a sex and gender policy which will be available from 2024. Culture change in this space will ensure the UK cements its position as a world leader in rigorous, sustainable science and provides the most effective evidence to improve outcomes for patients and society, which we strongly support. 

At Alzheimer’s Society, we are committing to the adoption of the MESSAGE sex and gender policy framework. We are committed to providing the dementia research community with the guidance, skills and tools to ensure that future research meets the needs of all people, no matter their sex or gender. 

We will work towards making the changes outlined by the framework to better support research and training, ensuring resources are available to our researchers and the wider dementia research community. 

Dr Richard Oakley - Associate Director of Research and Innovation said:

Research will lead to the breakthroughs we need to see in dementia but it is absolutely crucial that this research represents and includes everyone affected by dementia.

Everyone experiences dementia differently, and we know that women are disproportionately more affected by dementia, yet many more men participate in dementia research. This has led to gaps in our research evidence specific to women and also people who are transgender or intersex.

As a leading funder of dementia research, I am delighted that Alzheimer’s Society is a signatory to this Statement of Intent.

This signals our commitment to supporting more accurate, higher quality research, which will ultimately mean safer and more effective care and treatment for everyone living with these devastating diseases.