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Patient-Centered Research and News

We post the latest research in diverse topics that reflect the person and family experience in health and healthcare. As it is May and Women’s Health Month, the below research studies focus on current research in women’s health issues and what is being done to improve women’s access to healthcare and quality of life.

Developing a Gender Sensitive Women’s Mental Health Service in Qatar: A Rewarding Challenge

Asian Journal of Psychiatry

Investigations into gender differences in the epidemiology of common mental disorders have highlighted the fundamental role of socio-economic factors as the key determinants in experiencing mental ill health and access to treatment. Women are almost always at a socio-economic disadvantage across cultures throughout the world and as a result experience mental health inequality. This disparity in control over their socio-economic determinants is even more stark in the Middle Eastern and North African region. This region has additionally also cultural and legal conditions that make women empowerment and access to health difficult. Qatar launched an ambitious National Health Strategic program and identified women’s mental health as a priority. Majid Alabdulla et al. describe the development of a gender aware mental health service in Qatar, first of its kind in the region. They describe the challenges that exist in the region when attempting to develop such a service and some challenges that are unique to Qatar. This study sets out a template of important principles that will be valuable for countries in the Middle Eastern and North African region and beyond to develop evidence-based gender aware service that focuses on female empowerment and better mental health outcomes.

Trust and Cancer Screening: Effects of a Screening Controversy on Women’s Perceptions of Cervical Cancer Screening

Preventive Medicine Reports

There is a paucity of data on trust of service users in cervical screening. A significant controversy in Ireland’s national cervical cancer screening program emerged in 2018. The Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed that a clinical audit had revealed that more than 200 women who developed cancer had not been told of earlier misdiagnosed smear tests. During this high-profile controversy, B.O. Donovan et al. conducted qualitative interviews exploring factors that influence cervical screening participation. Women who had been invited for routine screening tests were recruited from the national screening register. Telephone interviews were conducted with 48 women aged 25–65 years; with a range of screening histories – 34 were adequately screened (attended all routine screening tests) and 14 were inadequately screened (attended some/no screening tests). Thematic analysis was conducted, and all interviewees spontaneously raised the screening controversy revealing that the crisis had resulted in serious loss of trust, faith and confidence in the screening program. Publicity surrounding the controversy had some beneficial effects, including increased awareness of the value of screening and beliefs that intense focus on the program will improve the service long-term. Strategies which incorporate these findings could help rebuild trust in screening.

Neurosurgeons’ Opinions on Discussing Sexual Health Among Brain Tumor Patients: Room for Improvement?

Journal of Clinical Neuroscience

As sexual health is an important aspect of general quality of life, discussing and treating sexual health issues should also be part of the oncological care given to patients. It is unknown to what extent neurosurgeons discuss sexual health issues with patients suffering from brain tumors. Eric Laldjising et al. conducted a 25-question survey sent to members of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons by email. Of all neurosurgeons who replied, 59.1% never discussed sexual health with patients suffering from brain tumors. There was a trend of less discussing sexual health with older patients. Furthermore, discussing sexual health did not depend on the stage or type of brain tumor patients were suffering from. A majority of 57.7% of the neurosurgeons stated that patients themselves are responsible for discussing health and 41.6% think that neurosurgeons are responsible. The biggest barriers for avoiding discussing sexual health were that ‘patients do not express sexual problems spontaneously’, ‘insufficient training/knowledge of the neurosurgeon’ and ‘insufficient time’. Furthermore, 59.1% stated they had insufficient/no knowledge about sexual health and 70% found it (slightly/very) important to screen for sexual health after meningioma surgery. About 63.1% wanted to extend their knowledge on sexual health. Sexual health is an underexposed area in the neurosurgical care for patients suffering from brain tumors. There is a need for more awareness on recognizing and treating of sexual dysfunction after neurosurgery.