Research Report 2018

Robin Mason

Robin Mason | Scientist and Scientific Lead, Women’s Xchange

Why sex and gender matter in research

Intimate partner violence has been consistently identified as one of the most common forms of violence against women in Canada. Despite the widespread prevalence of this issue, victims and survivors continue to experience enormous shame, stigma and misunderstanding about their experiences, including when they seek healthcare services. For nearly 20 years, Robin Mason, PhD, has worked to increase knowledge about the health impacts and how to provide appropriate, sensitive care to those who have been physically or psychologically abused by their spouse or partner.  

Mason has developed a number of educational tools and contributed to diverse provincial and national practice guidelines with the intent of improving healthcare practices and services for women who have experienced intimate partner violence and sexual assault. In collaboration with experts across the province, she has created a number of evidence-informed, interactive online curricula to help healthcare providers recognize and respond to women who have experienced violence. The online curricula now includes four distinct programs including making connections between domestic violence, mental health and substance use, addressing past sexual assault in clinical settings, and recognizing and responding to the commonly misunderstood reactions to sexual assault. Approximately 20,000 individuals have accessed these online educational programs, leading to improvements in the care that women receive from their healthcare providers. 

Mason also acts as the scientific lead of Women’s Xchange, a knowledge translation and exchange centre designed to enhance women’s health research at both the community and academic level, as well as advance the integration of sex and gender considerations in all health research. Women’s Xchange advocates for researchers to take into consideration both biological and socio-cultural factors when developing studies and programs and analyzing healthcare interventions. Doing so illuminates the numerous differences in how men and women experience health and access healthcare. By applying a sex and gender lens, better scientific evidence is produced, ensuring that strategies, treatments and medications are tailored to the unique healthcare needs of both women and men.