Themes of global women's health program in Australia
1) Sex- and gender-disaggregated analyses of health and medical data
Our research in this area explores sex differences in risk factors, healthcare access, research coverage, treatment and outcomes. Ongoing studies focus on: gender disparities in relation to diet and cardio-metabolic diseases; gender bias in stroke; and sex differences in septic shock.
2) NCDI prevention, identification and treatment
a) Integrating the management of pregnancy with NCDI prevention: This work aims to determine the relationship between high-risk pregnancy and NCDs, and to integrate NCD care within maternal health services. Pre-eclampsia, which is a high blood pressure disorder of pregnancy, affecting several organs, is consistently in the top five causes of maternal morbidity and mortality in both high and low- and middle-income countries. Pre-eclampsia and other high blood pressure disorders are associated with long-term adverse health outcomes, including a doubling of the risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in women worldwide.
Examples of research include:
- BP2 (blood pressure postpartum) study – Randomized control trial involving assessing follow up after hypertensive pregnancy
- P4 study - Prospective cohort study following mothers and babies for the first five years after birth across two groups: those who experienced pulmonary embolism, or who experienced normal blood pressure, during pregnancy
- Knowledge gaps after hypertensive pregnancy – Surveys and focus groups with healthcare providers and women following hypertensive pregnancy to create appropriate informational packs for women and GPs
b) Cardiovascular disease in women: This research focuses on medication use to improve cardiovascular health and related outcomes in women. Examples include:
- Access to treatment and therapies over time in community setting is assessed in line with global estimates of under-treatment of women at high cardiovascular risk using WHO STEPwise approach to Surveillance (STEPS)
- Improving outcomes with better use of blood pressure and other cardiovascular medicines
- A customised and pragmatic strategy to lower blood pressure using low- dose combination and dose administration aids
c) Intimate partner and family violence in NSW: Gender-based violence (GBV) is exclusively enacted on women. In Australia, the phenomenon is wide-reaching: one in three women experience physical violence by the age of 15, and one women is murdered by her current or former partner every week. Our research addresses: care coordination for young people; trauma-informed care (acknowledging, addressing and seeking to understand the effects of all trauma); mental health, suicide and self-harm ; healthcare access and models of care for young people and adolescents; and chronic pain.
The First Response project which looks at the role the primary health care sector can play in responding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who experience violence in New South Wales, through ensuring access to competent practitioners and supportive services, as well as enabling policy frameworks.
d) Ageing and dementia: This research explores the effects of ageing and dementia on women’s health.
3) Healthcare workers and workforce issues
The George Institute has several projects focused on frontline health workers, who are the backbone of primary health care service delivery. Our research seeks to understand health worker performance and inequalities in healthcare coverage on the one hand, and the career aspirations, time use and challenges faced by workers on the other.
4) Women’s cancers and gynaecological morbidity
Dr Cecila Ng leads the establishment of the National Endometriosis Clinical and Scientific Trials (NECST) Network. Funded by Jean Hailes, this research platform will provide a platform for clinical, basic science and translational research.
5) Women, health and the environment
This is an emerging area of focus and research for the programme.
The Australian Women’s Health program also focusses on global advocacy and multilateral engagement, thought leadership that aims to share insights, challenge the status quo and foster debates and discussions that result in improved health outcomes with a special focus on women's health equity, and social entrepreneurship and innovation.