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Sex (biological attributes) and gender (sociocultural factors) have a joint and interacting influence on health. Understanding and integrating sex and gender dimensions into health research and practice is important and necessary to ensure better clinical outcomes and population health and a fairer access to health for everyone in the society.

The aim of this national research programme is to create a knowledge base for an evidence-based implementation of sex/gender aspects in health research, medicine, and public health in Switzerland. This needs to be done through (a) producing context-sensitive and transdisciplinary knowledge to understand sex/gender-related aspects in health; (b) improving and adapting clinical practice to include sex/gender specificities; (c) integrating a gender mainstreaming approach as an elemental part of the health system.

By calling for research projects on sex/gender aspects in health sciences and public health and through coordinated programme activities, the programme sets out to introduce a change in practice in these sectors and to specify standards for implementing these changes in Switzerland.

The programme is structured around three modules:

  1. Sex/gender as a determinant of health: module 1 will assess the influence of sex and gender and their interaction on health. Projects will bring knowledge that can serve as the foundation for methodological guidelines, informing researchers on how to effectively incorporate sex and gender, as well as other key determinants of health, into health research, by using intersectional approaches.
  2. Sex/gender in health care and clinical practice: module 2 will focus on integrating sex and gender considerations throughout the healthcare and management processes. It will encompass the study of sex and gender-related factors in prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, chronic care, and palliative care, aiming to inform on the development of disease-specific clinical guidelines. Projects within this module are invited to also address healthcare access, patient-provider communication, drug and medical device development, and digital healthcare solutions.
  3. Sex/gender at the public health and policy levels: module 3 will investigate the societal and economic repercussions of incorporating sex and gender considerations into public health and policy. Projects may also contribute to developing tools for health institutions and authorities to assimilate sex and gender dimensions into their policies and/or laws. In addition, this module will embody the implementation of health interventions and policies and explore to what extent differences in the legal framework related to sex/gender across regions impact population health.

The research phase of the programme will run for 5 years, with a total funding of CHF 11 million.