Auditing the Representation of Females Versus Males in Heat Adaptation Research

Monica K Kelly, Ella S Smith, Harry A Brown, William T Jardine, Lilia Convit, Steven J Bowe, Dominique Condo, Joshua H Guy, Louise M Burke, Julien D Périard, Rhiannon M J Snipe, Rodney J Snow, Amelia J Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The aim of this audit was to quantify female representation in research on heat adaptation. Using a standardized audit tool, the PubMed database was searched for heat adaptation literature from inception to February 2023. Studies were included if they investigated heat adaptation among female and male adults (≥18-50 years) who were free from noncommunicable diseases, with heat adaptation the primary or secondary outcome of interest. The number and sex of participants, athletic caliber, menstrual status, research theme, journal impact factor, Altmetric score, Field-Weighted Citation Impact, and type of heat exposure were extracted. A total of 477 studies were identified in this audit, including 7,707 participants with ∼13% of these being female. Most studies investigated male-only cohorts (∼74%, n = 5,672 males), with ∼5% (n = 360 females) including female-only cohorts. Of the 126 studies that included females, only 10% provided some evidence of appropriate methodological control to account for ovarian hormone status, with no study meeting best-practice recommendations. Of the included female participants, 40% were able to be classified to an athletic caliber, with 67% of these being allocated to Tier 2 (i.e., trained/developmental) or below. Exercise heat acclimation was the dominant method of heat exposure (437 interventions), with 21 studies investigating sex differences in exercise heat acclimation interventions. We recommend that future research on heat adaptation in female participants use methodological approaches that consider the potential impact of sexual dimorphism on study outcomes to provide evidence-based guidelines for female athletes preparing for exercise or competition in hot conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
Volume34
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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