Who’s investigating what?
Associate Professor Alice Rumbold is a public health researcher and director of the Equity and Healthy Futures Research Group within the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide. Her research aims to reorientate health resources, systems and policies to meet the needs of populations at most risk of experiencing poor health. She has a particular interest in improving reproductive and maternal health, and this includes bringing into focus the impact of PCOS in underserved populations.
Alice is involved in a number of collaborative research projects that aim to understand whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience a high burden of infertility associated with PCOS, and ascertain the extent to which they are able to access infertility treatment. Preliminary findings of this work suggest that these women face many barriers to accessing this care. In addition, much more work needs to be done to support infertility clinics to make services more culturally relevant. There is also a need to improve information systems to collect data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander couples, to enable monitoring of patterns of access to infertility care, as well as infertility treatment outcomes.
Within her own group Alice is mentoring and supporting a number of postdoctoral researchers to develop PCOS research including Dr Jodie Avery. Together they have undertaken research to define the impact of PCOS in women aged outside of the peak reproductive years (the age group when a diagnosis of PCOS is often made). Utilising data from a large, community-based survey of South Australian women, this study has shed light on the extent of under-diagnosis of PCOS among young as well as peri- and post-menopausal women. In addition, the findings identified previously unrecognised co-morbid conditions, particularly in young women with PCOS, such as arthritis. This reinforces the need for multi-disciplinary management of this complex condition.
With funding from the CRE Alice is now examining trends and patterns in the utilisation of GP-coordinated chronic disease management plans and mental health treatment plans among women with PCOS participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health. This will help to pinpoint the key groups of women with PCOS that are not accessing multidisciplinary care. This will support more targeted awareness campaigns for health care providers regarding implementation of the recent evidence based PCOS care guidelines.
On a lighter note, Alice has just returned from trekking the overland track in Tasmania raising funds and awareness for gastrointestinal cancer research. With her husband they raised more than $10,000 to support new treatments for these cancers, to honour a dear friend who passed away in 2018 from pancreatic cancer. Her supporters (financial and moral) included many CRE members!