Gender disparities in neuropsychological assessment research in drug abuse populations: A systematic review

Alicia Ford, Kirstien Minley, Josie Martin, Madeline Hudson, Kelsey Snider, Rigel Bacani, Riley Smith, Gunnar Phillips, Matt Vassar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: To systematically review the literature on the neurocognitive effects of drug use to determine if there are significant gender differences. Methods: In April 2023, we conducted a broad search in MEDLINE (via PubMed), PsycINFO, and Embase for original research studies that used objective neuropsychological assessment to evaluate neurocognition in persons with drug use. Data extraction was performed in a masked, duplicate fashion. Results: Our initial search returned 22,430 records, of which 273 articles were included in our analysis. We found significant underrepresentation of women as participants in the studies. Twenty-one percent of studies had exclusively male participants; when women were included, they averaged only 23% of the sample. Only 49 studies sufficiently documented an analysis of their results by gender; due to the heterogeneity in study characteristics, no conclusions about cognitive differences between women and men could be made. Conclusions: Women are significantly underrepresented in the research on cognition in drug use. Increased efforts to include more women participants and consistent analysis and reporting of data for potential gender differences will be required to close this gap in knowledge, which may lead to improved substance abuse treatment approaches for women.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • disparities
  • illicit drugs
  • Neurocognitive functioning
  • review
  • substance use disorder
  • systematic review
  • women


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