New centre for women’s sexual and reproductive health in primary care

Adapted from Monash Media Release accessed 9th August 2018

A collaboration between the Monash Department of General Practice and Public Health and Preventive Medicine has resulted in a new $2.5 million NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in women’s sexual and reproductive health in primary care.

It was among six funded Monash University research projects announced by Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt in Canberra yesterday at the Women’s Health Forum.

The multi-disciplinary and patient-focussed Centre, known as SPHERE, will be run by the Head of Monash University’s Department of General Practice, Professor Danielle Mazza.

Our own Professor Jane Fisher (pictured left) is CIB on the CRE grant and is leading the research and research translation to improve sexual and reproductive health care for women with chronic non-communicable diseases. She says:

“Women with chronic conditions describe their sexual and reproductive healthcare needs as being generally poorly understood or addressed. This may be because practitioners can assume that they do not have sexual relationships, desire children or require contraception, or are infertile. It’s incredibly exciting to embark on this project, where we’ll use interlinked investigations to establish women’s needs and preferences for care.

We’ll also help GPs to have good discussions about sexual and reproductive health with these women, by developing and testing a desktop guide.”

Project lead Professor Mazza said: “the awarding of SPHERE recognises the integral role of general practitioners practising throughout Australia in providing sexual and reproductive health care for almost 5.6 million Australian women of reproductive age and the need to invest in health services research and knowledge translation in Australian primary care, particularly in general practice. SPHERE will close profound evidence practice gaps and improve Australian women’s access to high quality, evidence-based and accessible sexual and reproductive health services.”

“The Centre will bring about a paradigm shift in the way GPs and other primary care practitioners deliver preconception, contraception and abortion services, through an integrated life course approach to help women achieve their own reproductive goals. We will do this through broad collaboration – collaborations between researchers, healthcare providers, health service delivery organisations, policymakers, peak bodies for women’s health in Australia, and consumers,” she added.

Minister Hunt also announced funding for trials by other Monash University researchers, including our School’s Dr Aya Mousa. Aya is based at the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation, and her research examines whether certain lipid species contribute to gestational diabetes development and whether these lipids are altered by diet, lifestyle, and/or drug therapies.

Congratulations to all involved!