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Research in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Women’s Health


Access to health care

Attaining equitable access to health care is essential in attaining equitable health outcomes. Health outcomes in Aotearoa are not equitable by ethnicity or socioeconomic status, and noticeably so when compared to other OECD countries. We have several research projects that are exploring different aspects of access to healthcare, and from different perspectives (where we are applying a range of methodological approaches and theories).

  • Reflecting informed choice in population screening programmes.
  • Experiences of people undergoing gender affirmation surgery
  • Decision making around opportunistic salpingectomy as an approach to reduce ovarian cancer risk
  • Big data analysis of health care pathways
  • Implementation of molecular technologies, in particular with respect to ethical, legal, social and cultural considerations
  • Use of family health history in health care
  • Early pregnancy loss and maternal mental health
  • Public engagement in health research

For more information, contact

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Education research in Women’s Health

Title: Views of general practitioners on Otago University’s postgraduate programmes in obstetrics, gynaecology and women’s health

Team: Parimala Kanagasabai, Sara Filoche, Alec Ekeroma, Rebecca Grainger, Anthony Dowell, Helen Paterson

A survey was conducted to explore the views of General Practitioners (GPs) on the relevance of postgraduate women’s health curriculum to their current practice. We invited GPs and General Practice Education Programme (GPEP) trainees in New Zealand who finished postgraduate studies in women’s health (PGDipOMG or PGCertWHlth) at the University of Otago to complete an online survey (Qualtrics). The survey had 86 responses and we analysed 73 responses (13 responses were excluded as incomplete). We received 129 free-text comments. The overall curriculum was rated extremely/very relevant by 60 (82.2%) GPs, moderately relevant by 11 (15.1%) GPs, slightly relevant by 2 (2.7%) GPs and none considered it irrelevant. We identified the need for increased breadth and depth of gynaecological care curriculum with updated education resources. In particular, procedural skills such as insertion of implants and intra uterine devices. Detailed curriculum in obstetric care is no longer of high relevance to GPs in New Zealand. Many GPs (76%) expressed their interest towards refresher workshops in gynaecological care for updating their knowledge.

For more information, contact

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Endometrial cancer

Endometrial cancer is on the rise on Aotearoa New Zealand, particularly in younger women. Therefore, a number of studies have been developed in this area:

  • Qualitative research into women’s experiences. Firstly, investigating barriers and facilitators to women seeking care for abnormal bleeding, using interview-based methods. Secondly, investigating women’s views on the Mirena for endometrial protection using survey-based methods.
  • Molecular profiling of endometrial cancer in NZ women. The study will assess whether the molecular profile has any impact on outcomes, and whether incorporation of profiling in routine clinical practice is beneficial and feasible.
  • Biomarkers for the response to Mirena treatment for early stage endometrial cancer. This study will investigate novel plasma-based biomarkers such as cell free RNA as prognostic tools in response to treatment. This will further include investigating mechanisms of resistance.

For more information, contact 

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The Health Equity Research (HER) group

At the Health Equity Research (HER) group our research focusses on improving access to care and health outcomes for women. Our research holds women at the centre and takes a care pathway view – from exploring women’s experiences of accessing care to the development of new treatments, and how these may be implemented into healthcare in Aotearoa.

Aligning with Whakamaua our goal is to create systemic long-term health benefits for women in Aotearoa.

Our research is translational, interprofessional, covers three interrelated domains:

  • Medical Education
  • Cancer research
  • Health services and systems

We welcome new collaborations and research streams, and we also have a number of postgraduate research opportunities – find out more here.

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Storytelling for medical students in women’s health care

Title: Does patient storytelling enhance empathy in medical students for women’s health care?

Aim of the study: The research aims to explore ways to build future doctors’ empathy and understanding of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), and the many challenges it brings.

We invite women (aged 18 years and over) with period problems to share their story of how their heavy, long or irregular periods affect their life with a group of our medical students.

As part of the study:

  • You can choose to share your story in-person with the students or via a recording.
  • You can meet other women sharing their stories.
  • You may bring along your whānau or support person if you wish.
  • The research session may take up to 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • You will receive a $50 voucher as a thank-you for your help.

Participant information sheet (PDF)

For further information, please contact:

Parimala Kanagasabai (Research Fellow)

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Women's Health Advisory Group

This project aims to develop an advisory group who will work collaboratively with our University department and contribute to research to improve access to gynaecological care. It brings together people with many different perspectives on women’s health to share ideas, help guide our research, and explore ways to help us reach communities with solutions.

Find out more:

Women's Health Advisory Group

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