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A rapid evidence map of women’s health

Csontos, Judit ORCID:, Edwards, Deborah ORCID:, Gillen, Elizabeth ORCID:, Lewis, Ruth, Cooper, Alison ORCID: and Edwards, Adrian ORCID: 2023. A rapid evidence map of women’s health. Presented at: HSR UK 2023, Birmingham, 4-6 July 2023.

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Background: While women’s life expectancy is on average longer than men’s in the UK, evidence suggests that women experience more ill health and disability throughout the life course. The reasons for this include women’s underrepresentation in research, healthcare professionals’ (HCPs) education, communication problems between care providers and women, and issues with accessing appropriate services. The purpose of this rapid evidence map (REM) was to identify the nature and extent of the literature, research gaps and priorities in the following topic areas: a) HCPs’ communication with women about women’s health issues and broader health problems during clinical encounters; b) access to specialist healthcare; c) endometriosis; d) menopause; e) women’s health and mental health issues; f) mental health issues associated with specific conditions related to menopause or menstrual health (adenomyosis; endometriosis; fibroids; heavy menstrual bleeding, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)). Methods: This REM uses abbreviated systematic mapping or scoping review methods to provide a description of the nature, characteristics and volume of the available evidence. Separate searches were conducted for different topics (such as communication, access, endometriosis, menopause, and mental health) and combination of topics. The searches were conducted across four databases (MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL) with different date limits applied up to September 2022 for English language citations. Relevant organisational websites and funding bodies were also searched for grey literature and new or ongoing funding calls. Title/abstract and full-text screening and data extraction was conducted by one reviewer. Data was extracted from the abstracts about population characteristics, research focus, and study design. The evidence was presented both narratively and in the form of tables and graphical evidence maps. Results: Regarding communication during healthcare encounters, the evidence base included one systematic review (of endometriosis) and nine primary studies. The evidence base focusing on women’s access to specialist care consisted of 19 reviews and nine protocols, with topics including maternal medicine, sexual and reproductive health, cancer, perinatal mental health, HIV, and non-specific conditions. The endometriosis evidence base included 121 systematic reviews mainly focusing on medical and surgical management and aetiology. The menopause evidence base included 108 systematic reviews with focus on hormonal, non-hormonal, homeopathic and alternative therapies, genitourinary symptoms, and lifestyle interventions. The women’s health and mental health evidence base included 37 reviews covering: perinatal and general mental health, PCOS, and intimate partner violence. The menstrual health specific mental health evidence base included 10 systematic reviews covering conditions, such as PCOS, endometriosis, menopause, and menstruation with specific focus on prevalence, associations, and management. Implications: While there is a plethora of evidence in certain areas of women’s health, such as medical and alternative therapies for menopause, insufficiently researched areas exist. There is a lack of primary and secondary research that explores communication between women and HCPs and access to the following services: minor gynaecological procedures; pain management; care for menstrual health and wellbeing, endometriosis, PCOS, menopause, heart conditions, autoimmune diseases, hypermobility spectrum disorders, myalgic encephalomyelitis, long COVID, fibromyalgia, skin conditions; palliative and end of life care. Evidence gaps exist in primary research regarding information, support interventions and tools for women with endometriosis to help symptom management and improve quality of life. There is a lack of review evidence on endometriosis education and resources for HCPs to reduce diagnostic times and improve care. Moreover, there is an evidence gap in research addressing mental health problems from specific issues that affect women’s menstrual health such as adenomyosis, fibroids, heavy menstrual bleeding and PMDD. This REM can help guide researchers and funding bodies towards research priorities and gaps that can be beneficial to help achieve equity of care for women in the UK.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Prime Centre Wales (PRIME)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Date of Acceptance: 2 February 2023
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2024 01:08

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