Effectively addressing patients’ health concerns first requires identifying them. Comprehensive data collection is meant to inform care providers and patients about areas of concern, but health research has historically excluded women—especially elderly women and women of colour.
In funding and in research, various health issues have been brushed aside through an approach which does not recognize social and biological difference. As a result, many legitimate health concerns from women have been overlooked, leaving patients and researchers in the dark.
Working with our members across the country, Women’s Health Collective Canada aims to correct this under-representation by leading a call for research and greater awareness around the important work correcting these biases. Now officially Women’s Health Research Month, March is the perfect time to highlight some of the incredible work laying the foundations for more equitable research and better care for all women.
Dr. Lauren Beaupre is a professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Alberta. Her research centres on osteoporosis, which affects approximately 250,000 Albertans, with women accounting for approximately 70-75 per cent of hip fracture patients requiring emergency surgery. Dr. Beaupre’s research seeks to address systematic care gaps and has been instrumental in improving the health, and in some cases saving the lives, of thousands of women in Alberta. Her work, supported by the Alberta Women’s Health Foundation, looks to promote “ongoing collection of key performance indicators to continue to improve Alberta’s bone health care delivery as well as educational tools for women to plan for a lifetime of bone health.”
Dr. Padma Kaul is an epidemiologist, Professor of Medicine, Adjunct Professor at the School of Public Health, and Co-Director of the Canadian VIGOUR centre at the University of Alberta. She holds a CIHR Chair in Sex and Gender Science and a Heart & Stroke Chair in Cardiovascular Research. Her research interests include examining the burden of heart disease in women relative to men. She has expanded her interest in women’s health by developing a longitudinal pregnancy and birth cohort to study the downstream effects of factors, such as gestational diabetes mellitus, on the development of chronic disease in both the mother and the child. She has extensive experience working with population-level administrative data, clinical registries, as well as large, multinational clinical trials and is exploring the use of novel artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to analyze these data.
Dr. Gina Ogilvie is a Professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Global Control of HPV related diseases and prevention. She is also Senior Public Health Scientist at BC Centre for Disease Control and Senior Research Advisor at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre. Dr. Ogilvie is principal investigator for several major research projects and has received funding from PHAC, CIHR, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Canadian Foundation for Innovation and private foundations. Her research is focused on both the public health and clinical aspects of reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, HPV screening and the HPV vaccine, and her findings have been highly influential in setting and directing health policy both in Canada and globally.
Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe is a senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI), and the Director of the Novo Nordisk Network for Healthy Populations at the University of Toronto. Her research is focused on the disproportionate effects of diabetes on low-income and racialized populations. To counter this, she has created a unique community-based diabetes prevention program which looks to improve “access to equitable and effective health care for persons affected by diabetes, with a particular focus on women and underserved populations.” Her CIHR-funded Avoiding Diabetes After Pregnancy Trial in Moms (ADAPT-M) “uses pregnancy as a window of opportunity to identify and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Dr. Mona Loutfy is a senior scientist and director at the Women and HIV Research Program at Women’s College Research Institute. She works to close the health gap and topple barriers in order “to create a world where girls and women can maximize their true potential, well-being, and health.” This is especially important when it comes to HIV, which often affects marginalized and stigmatized women. Dr. Loutfy’s approach is community-based. Working collaboratively with racialized women, Indigenous women, and women of sexual minority groups, Dr. Loufty and her team can accurately and respectfully address issues affecting their health. This work also looks to help women “better navigate the health system and advocate for their own health and reproductive goals.”