An innovative approach to improving rural women's health

  • Clinicians Alicia Besler, Anna Price-Smith, Dr Madeleine Ward and Dr Lachlan Brennan, were supported by the OGB Research Foundation to present their research at the 2022 Western Alliance Symposium. 
    Clinicians Alicia Besler, Anna Price-Smith, Dr Madeleine Ward and Dr Lachlan Brennan, were supported by the OGB Research Foundation to present their research at the 2022 Western Alliance Symposium. 

The establishment of the OGB Research Foundation has been a significant step in the pursuit of providing specialised women’s healthcare services to rural communities in regional western Victoria. The Foundation, established in 2022 by Obstetrics and Gynaecology Ballarat (OGB) and OGB Surfcoast, aims to promote a research-oriented culture that enhances the quality of rural women's health care. It provides financial and administrative support to OGB clinicians seeking to engage in health research.

Lauren Bobrowski, OGB Quality Manager, expressed her enthusiasm for the Foundation and its mission: ‘As a community-focused healthcare organisation, OGB is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of rural women. The Foundation allows us to take our commitment to the next level, by facilitating cutting-edge research that will enable us to better understand and address the unique health needs and challenges faced by women living in rural areas.’

The OGB Research Foundation is supporting several research projects in collaboration with various organisations. One such project is the maternal assisted caesarean section (MAC) births study. Julianne Slater, as lead midwife, is collaborating with OGB clinicians and Professor Linda Sweet from Deakin University.

Julianne explains: ‘The MAC study aims to improve the birthing experience for women who require a caesarean section. By exploring patient satisfaction indicators and using storytelling methods to capture the lived experiences of women birthing via a MAC, we hope to enhance the quality of care provided to rural women during childbirth.’

In a recent study supported by the OGB Research Foundation, Dr Renee Cock, a junior medical officer, assessed the outcomes of a non-invasive surgical procedure called transcervical resection of the endometrium (TCRE) for managing heavy periods. The study aimed to determine the rate of hysterectomy following TCRE, based on age. The findings revealed that TCRE effectively reduced the risk of hysterectomy, especially for individuals over 45 years old, highlighting its importance as a non-invasive option.

If you're interested in following in the footsteps of the OGB Research Foundation and conducting rural health research in your clinical organisation, here are some recommended steps to take.
If you're interested in following in the footsteps of the OGB Research Foundation and conducting rural health research in your clinical organisation, here are some recommended steps to take.
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Dr Madeleine Ward, the study's lead supervisor, stressed the significance of the results: ‘This valuable information underscores the importance of timely access to non-invasive surgical management in rural communities. It provides essential guidance for clinicians and patients in considering appropriate treatment options for managing heavy periods.’

The OGB Research Foundation is also conducting a study, funded by the Australasian Gynaecological Endoscopy and Surgery (AGES) Society, that aims to enhance rural women's access to gynaecology endosurgery. The study is being conducted in collaboration with numerous organisations, including Grampians Health (Ararat), Central Highland Rural Health (Kyneton), St John of God Ballarat, Epworth Geelong and Maryborough District Health Service.

OGB Director, Dr Russell Dalton, explains the importance of the study: ‘By exploring the use of augmented reality technology for remote surgical mentoring, we hope to improve the quality of care provided to rural women and pave the way for future telemedicine practices.’

Lastly, the OGB Research Foundation is conducting the OGB HELPS study, aimed at gaining insights into the management of heavy menstrual bleeding. The study is led by Dr Katrina Guerin, who states: ‘By gathering patient experiences and providing context to current management of heavy menstrual bleeding, we hope to inform future implementation of shared decision-making tools that address the unique needs of the women accessing our service.’

The OGB Research Foundation has taken several important steps towards promoting a research-oriented culture that enhances the quality of rural women's health care. By providing financial and administrative support to clinicians and collaborating with various organisations and lead investigators, the Foundation has been able to undertake innovative research projects that contribute to improving rural health outcomes in Australia.

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