Researchers, led by Blade Langlais, sought to evaluate the heavily female-weighted gender disparity in online myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) survey participation to determine if symptom burden may be overestimated as a result. According to their article, presented online at the 2022 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, the overall bias in patient surveys due to gender participation imbalance was “relatively low.”
However, the researchers observed that analyses which factored in gender differences were more impacted, and they suggested that “anonymous surveys should seek to reduce participation bias during the survey design phase.”
The study utilized five anonymous online surveys to assess the impact of gender participation imbalances. In the surveys, components of the MPN-Symptom Assessment Form (SAF) were seeded to generate a total symptom score (TSS).
Reportedly, 74% of the 4,962 survey respondents were female. Interestingly, the expected gender distribution among MPN subtypes—polycythemia vera (PV), essential thrombocythemia (ET), and myelofibrosis (MF)—were not present in the study. Overall, the gender imbalance led to a 3.1% overestimation of overall TSS and a 6.8% underestimation of the mean TSS difference between genders.
In closing, the authors suggested that future studies are warranted to explore “gender and other participation biases in surveys across cancer domains.”