University of Newcastle: Migrant voices needed for Australia’s largest study on women’s health

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health Deputy Director Professor Deb Loxton from the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute said it was exciting to be able to welcome more women into the important project.

“The face of Australia changes every year, as we welcome people from other countries,” Professor Loxton said.

“The women in our study represented a great snapshot of women in 1996, but we need to make sure we represent women as they are in 2022, which means asking more women to join the study.”

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH), also known as Women’s Health Australia to its participants, is looking to recruit at least 1000 women who were born in South, Southeast and Northeast Asian countries between 1973 and 1978.

The Australian Government Department of Health funds ALSWH which is jointly managed by the University of Queensland (UQ) and the University of Newcastle.

Since 1996, the study has followed more than 57,000 Australian women in four age groups: born 1989-95, 1973-78, 1946-51 and 1921-26.

Their data provides invaluable information about the health of women across the lifespan and has been used to inform federal and state government policies across a wide range of issues.

While the groups were representative of the general population of women at the time, changes in immigration to Australia have altered the cultural landscape of the population.

The University of Queensland’s Professor Gita Mishra, Director of ALSWH, said women who volunteered could help make a difference to the healthcare guidelines, and the policies and services that supported their communities.

“Representation in health research is important for women, and especially for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” said Professor Mishra.

“Clinical guidelines are largely based on data from women with European heritage, but this one-size-fits-all approach isn’t appropriate because women have different risk factors for disease, different diets, and go through major reproductive events at slightly different ages.”