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Gaps in Women’s Healthcare

Jean Hailes: Spotting The Gaps In Women's Healthcare

The team at Jean Hailes are well known for spotting gaps in women’s healthcare knowledge and providing answers to the big questions.  In an Australian first, Jean Hailes surveyed 3325 women and health professionals about their greatest health fears and worries. The results are a wealth of data shining a light on women from all backgrounds and regions of Australia. It highlighted women’s top four health concerns, what they want to know more about, what they think they know lots about and also asked what health practitioners think women worry about or need to known.  The survey findings formed the basis for this year’s Women’s Health Week campaign. The week’s theme, “Getting rid of the elephant in the room,” encouraged women to talk about health topics that may often go unmentioned. Each of the five days of Women’s Health Week were dedicated to discussing the main topics Australian women told Jean Hailes they wanted to talk about.

Monday focussed on the top four issues women said they were most worried about: healthy living, including weight management, diet and exercise; female-specific cancers; mental and emotional health; and cardiovascular disease (CVD).  The good news is that some of the biggest risk factors for some cancers and CVD can be reduced by making simple lifestyle changes. Jean Hailes dietitian Anna Waldron says, “Although there is much evidence about the benefits of eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, often the cancer prevention benefit is overlooked. It seems that specific fruit and vegetables are likely to reduce specific cancers so eating a wide variety of different plant foods including fruit and vegetables is the best approach to reducing cancer risk. We know that very few Australians are eating the amount of fruit and vegetables recommended and this is an important dietary change many women can make.”

Tuesday covered natural therapies, which ranges from acupuncture to herbal treatments, supplements and traditional Chinese medicine. The survey revealed that 73% of women want to know more about their safety and how effective they are. An estimated 70% of Australians use some form of natural therapy. Key points covered were:  Always inform your medical doctor if you are using any natural therapy.  Seek out a qualified, registered therapist who is a member of a known association by visiting ANTA – Australian Natural Therapist Association or AHPRA – Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

Wednesday was about mental health and domestic violence, how to seek out help and advice and what to do if you’re worried about someone in this situation. We discovered that women all over Australia feel the need for more information on both of these subjects.  There was a video of Jean Hailes psychologist, Dr Mandy Deeks giving some great tips for mental and emotional health, as well as a podcast from Professor Jane Fisher, director of the Jean Hailes Research Unit explaining the facts of domestic violence, and how to support someone experiencing it.  To find help and assistance please contact:

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) National sexual assault, domestic family violence and counselling service
The Jean Hailes anxiety portal, Anxiety: Learn, Think, Do, offers useful information and assistance about anxiety and depression, nationwide.

Thursday covered CVD and recognising the symptoms of heart attack and stroke in women. CVD, which includes stroke and heart disease, is the biggest killer of women in Australia. One woman dies of a heart attack every two hours and more women die from a stroke than breast cancer.  Some of the risk factors for CVD, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, can be addressed if caught early enough.  Knowledge is power. Most cardiovascular diseases can be avoided by changing behavioural risk factors such as tobacco use, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and alcohol use.

Friday brought everything together, discussing how we can all live healthier lives. Physical activity can reduce blood pressure, increase mood and lower cholesterol. Some simple changes to make a healthier you are:  Be physically active for 30 minutes each day. After just 12 minutes exercise, your brain starts to release feel good hormones (serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline) which act in a similar fashion to antidepressants. You don’t have to go to the gym to achieve this, it’s as simple as having a few sessions dancing to your favourite music each day  Stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake and drink more water.  Follow Australian Healthy Food guidelines, aim for a balanced diet packed with fruit and vegetables

More information on all these topics can be found on the 2015 Women’s Health Week website – get in quick as it will only available be until mid-October 2015. If you haven’t already, make sure you are registered so you don’t miss out on Women’s Health Week in 2016.

Published with the permission of Jean Hailes for Women's Health.

1800 JEAN HAILES (532 642)

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