2021 Newsletter

NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence
on Women and Non-communicable Diseases: Prevention and Detection

The Centre of Research Excellence on Women and Non-communicable Diseases: Prevention and Detection (CRE WaND) was established to explore prevention and detection of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Australian women at every life stage. The CRE WaND team aim to create new knowledge, build workforce capacity and engage in dynamic partnerships and collaborations to disseminate our work to other researchers, government and non-government organisations, consumer advocacy groups, consumers, clinicians and policy makers.

As many Australians experienced the challenges of bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, our first year saw the CRE WaND team quickly adapt to navigating a world in crisis. Thankful that Australia fared better than many other countries with respect to COVID-19, the CRE WaND team adjusted to working from home. “You’re on mute” became a commonly heard phrase as we navigated new outbreaks, snap lockdowns and border closures to continue our work across the four CRE WaND streams.

Research Spotlight

Vitamin D testing among Australian Women

Dr Louise Wilson investigated whether changes to the MBS criteria reduced the overuse of Vitamin D testing among middle aged women. She found that although testing initially declined, the reduction was not sustained. Women who had more doctor visits and who had been tested previously were more likely to have vitamin D testing.

These findings have been circulated to policy makers, health service leaders, academics and clinicians via the Deeble Institute’s research newsletter, and have also featured on The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) website.  Dr Wilson has also presented this work to consumers and clinicians at the NPS Choosing Wisely virtual meeting 2021, as well as using it as an example of how linked data can be utilised in a webinar for the Population Health Research Network (PHRN) Linkage Luminaries series.

-> Check out Choosing Wisely Australia's five questions to ask your doctor or other healthcare provider before getting any test, treatment or procedure.

NOTE: Vitamin D testing rates started to decline before the introduction of the new MBS criteria. This is likely due to the impact of education activities delivered to general practitioners in the lead-up period to the new MBS vitamin D testing items being used.

-> View the PHRN webinar here
-> Read the research summary
-> Read the paper (Paid article)

Researcher Spotlight

Dr Mridula Bandyopadhyay

Dr Mridula Bandyopadhyay was trained in public health and has worked in Australia and several Asia-Pacific countries. She works on complex population health issues, such as reproductive health and reproductive rights, gender-based violence, gestational diabetes, sexual health, determinants of health and health system response to the health of vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Dr Bandyopadhyay has been working with immigrant women’s health research in Australia for several years. She is committed to improving immigrant women’s knowledge and understanding of their body and health. She has worked in various settings, including government, universities, hospitals and not-for-profit organisations.

Her role as a CRE WaND Research Fellow focuses on knowledge synthesis and research translation to increase women’s awareness and understanding of non-communicable diseases (NCDs); and to inform policy and practice to prevent and reduce NCDs in women.

She is collaboratively working with key stakeholders and partners to develop appropriate evidence-based resources and tools for dissemination to health care practitioners and end-users.

Currently, she is involved in the development of two animated explanatory health promotion videos on midlife health with CRE WaND investigators, the Victorian Department of Health, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Ethnolink and Punchy Media. These health promotion videos are for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and low health literacy. Dr Bandyopadhyay identified and secured funding for this translation activity from the Victorian Department of Health on behalf of Jean Hailes.

Initially, the videos on midlife health will be produced in two community languages (Mandarin and Vietnamese) and English. These will be widely disseminated through health practitioners, key stakeholders, and hosted on major Australian health websites and the internet for easy access. Planned evaluation consultations will enhance future CRE WaND translational undertakings.

A report on ‘Accessibility of web-based health information for women in midlife from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds or with low health literacy' has been submitted to a high-impact peer-reviewed journal and is currently under review. 

Project Spotlight

The rise in popularity of social media platforms has seen an explosion of visual culture in the last decade with high value placed on images of youth. Images portraying youth are often associated with beauty, especially for women. Images of aging and older women are often absent altogether from mainstream media.

Chief Investigator, Professor Martha Hickey’s Flesh after Fifty project looked at changing the narrative on women’s aging. Challenging negative stereotypes while promoting and celebrating images of older women, the project highlighted overlooked images and commissioned 10 new art installations to explore social issues, health and empowerment of older women. 

As part of the Flesh after Fifty project a series of public talks were held at the Abbotsford Convent’s Magdalen Laundry.  In collaboration with CRE WaND, five of these talks have now been made available to the public. The talks; My Body, My Safety, My Menopause, My Mind and My COVID can now be viewed on the CRE WaND website.

While on our website, why not check out the short documentary (contains nudity) that goes behind the art.

Media Spotlight

Chief Investigator Professor Jenny Doust’s and Professor Gita Mishra’s ‘The Conversation’ article on health screening has been translated into Japanese, and featured in the prevention section of Newsweek Japan’s 2021 special issue. Like Australia, the number of women undertaking routine health screening declined in Japan as well. Professor Doust said, "We are hoping that our article will remind women to have these checks, so that the crisis brought about the pandemic doesn’t have further harmful effects."

-> Read the article in Japanese
-> Read the article in English

Queensland Women's Health Forum

The Australian Health Research Alliance’s Women’s Health Research Translation and Impact Network (WHRTN) is a peak body in women’s health representing Australia’s network of seven Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres and three Centres for Innovation in Regional Health accredited by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

CRE WaND Director Professor Gita Mishra and Mater Research Senior Research Fellow Professor Vicki Clifton are the Queensland representatives of the WHRTN. They wanted to provide an opportunity for those working in women’s health research across Queensland to share their research knowledge and identify the needs of women and those working in women’s health research in Queensland.

CRE WaND Post-Doctoral Research Fellows had the opportunity to take part in the forum.

  • Dr Danusha Jayawardana presented her work on excess healthcare costs of depressive symptoms among women in late adolescence using evidence from national Medicare claims data,
  • Dr Zhiwei Xu presented his updated systematic review and meta-analysis looking at impacts of asthma severity, exacerbations and medication use on perinatal outcomes and,
  • Dr Hsin-Fang Chung presented a pooled analysis of cohort studies from the InterLACE consortium looking at early menopause and risk of vasomotor symptoms.
  • Professor Mishra presented on the epidemiology of women’s health.
  • She also facilitated the chronic disease breakout session on identifying health issues affecting Queensland women. 

Our post-docs and Professor Mishra outlined the value of this workshop. The forum was the first public health conference for Dr Danusha Jayawardana, our health economics post-doc.  She noted how different it was to economics conferences and provided a wonderful opportunity to hear about current public health research in women’s health.

The top priority that emerged from discussions at the forum was chronic disease in pregnancy for women in rural and regional QLD. There was general consensus among attendees, including health consumers, that an annual event would be highly valuable.

Visitor Update

Professor Wendy Rogers

Sex, Gender, Women's Health and Research

Wendy Rogers is Professor of Clinical Ethics at Macquarie University where she has appointments in the Department of Philosophy and in Clinical Medicine.
Professor Rogers spoke at the University of Queensland about her paper exploring the impact of sex and gender on women’s health.

Women are historically under-served by research, which has focused primarily on the interests of men, using male participants. Where women have been included in research, the focus has been on sex-specific conditions and/or there has been no relevant sub-group analysis. The result is inadequate evidence about safe and effective treatments for women, leading to disproportionate harm.

Using the examples of hip replacement, transplantation and pain to illustrate these points, the seminar canvases the ethical concerns, and argues for changes to the way that research is commissioned, performed and published.
-> Watch Professor Rogers’ presentation here

Committee Updates

Post-doctoral sub-committee update

The post-doctoral sub-committee serves as a platform for information sharing amongst CRE WaND’s early career researchers and PhD students.

The committee members use this forum to collaborate with peers, provide feedback on current work and to brainstorm new ideas and innovative ways to translate and disseminate research findings. Much of the committee’s early work has focused on ensuring CRE WaND outcomes are consistent in approach.

As part of its ongoing commitment to building research workforce capacity, early career researchers and other team members attended a Writing for Policy Makers short course conducted by the Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research. All who attended found this course very useful, providing relevant information on policy and the workings of government.

Translation sub-committee update

The CRE WaND translation sub-committee was established to guide the translation work undertaken by CRE WaND. Led by Professor Jane Fisher, the committee meets quarterly to review work from the previous quarter and set priorities for the upcoming quarter.

Based on a scoping review of resources available online and data from the 2019 Jean Hailes Survey of Women, the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health 2019 Major Report, and the National Women’s Health Strategy, the translation team have prioritised the development of resources on midlife health for culturally and linguistically diverse women and women with low health literacy. 

Read more about the development of resources for culturally and linguistically diverse women in our researcher spotlight.


Bandyopadhyay M (2021) Gestational diabetes mellitus: a qualitative study of lived experiences of South Asian immigrant women and perspectives of their health care providers in Melbourne, Australia. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 21:500. DOI: 10.1186/s12884-021-03981-5. (Open access)

Wilson LF, Xu Z, Mishra GD, Dobson AJ, & Doust, J. (2020) Did changes to recommended testing criteria affect the rate of vitamin D testing among Australian women. Archives of Osteoporosis, 15 (1), pp.162 1-10. DOI:10.1007/s11657-020-00840-2.

Dobson AJ, Waller MJ, Hockey R, Dolja-Gore X, Forder PM & Byles JE. (2020) Impact of dementia on health service use in the last two years of life for women with other chronic conditions. Journal of American Medical Directors Association, 21(11), pp.1651-1657. DOI:10.1016/j.jamda.2020.02.018.

Cameron AJ, Romaniuk H, Orellana L, Dallongeville J, Dobson AJ, Drygas W, Ferrario M, Ferrieres J, Giampaoli S, Gianfagna F, Iacoviello L, Jousilahti P, Kee F, Moitry M, Niiranen TJ, Pająk A, Palmieri L, Palosaari T, Satu M, Tamosiunas A, Thorand B, Toft U, Vanuzzo D, Salomaa V, Veronesi G, Wilsgaard T, Kuulasmaa K & Söderberg S. (2020) The combined influence of waist and hip circumference on risk of death in a large cohort of European and Australian adults. Journal of the American Heart Association, 9(13), e015189. DOI:10.1161/JAHA.119.015189. (Open access)

Moss K, Dobson A, Tooth L & Mishra G. (2020) Associations between feeding practices in infancy and fruit and vegetable consumption in childhood. British Journal of Nutrition, 124(12), pp.1-9. DOI:10.1017/S000711452000238X. (Open access)

Anderson DJ, Chung HF, Seib CA, Dobson AJ, Kuh D, Brunner EJ, Crawford SL, Avis NE, Gold EB, Mitchell ES, Woods NF, Yoshizawa T & Mishra GD. (2020) Obesity, smoking, and risk of vasomotor menopausal symptoms: a pooled analysis of eight cohort studies. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 222(5), pp.478.e1-478.e17. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2019.10.103.

Dam V, Dobson AJ, Onland-Moret NC, van der Schouw YT & Mishra GD. (2020) Vasomotor menopausal symptoms and cardiovascular disease risk in midlife: A longitudinal study. Maturitas, 133,pp.32-41. DOI:10.1016/j.maturitas.2019.12.011.

Copp T, Muscat DM, Hersch J, McCaffery KJ, Doust J, Mol BW, Dokras A & Jansen J. (2020) Clinicians’ perspectives on diagnosing polycystic ovary syndrome in Australia: a qualitative study. Human Reproduction, 35(3), pp.660-668. DOI:10.1093/humrep/deaa005. (Open access)

Stanzel K, Hammarberg K, Nguyen T & Fisher J. (2020) ‘They should come forward with the information’: menopause‐related health literacy and health care experiences among Vietnamese‐born women in Melbourne, Australia. Ethnicity & Health. [Epub ahead of print]. DOI:10.1080/13557858.2020.1740176.

Iliodromiti S, Wang W, Lumsden MA, Hunter MS, Bell R, Mishra G & Hickey M. (2020) Variation in menopausal vasomotor symptoms outcomes in clinical trials: a systematic review. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 127(3), pp.320-333. DOI:10.1111/1471-0528.15990. (Open access)

Stanzel K, Hammarberg K & Fisher J. (2020) Not everybody is an internet person’: barriers for menopause‐related health literacy among immigrant women from the Horn of Africa nations. Health Promotion Journal of Australia. [Epub ahead of print]. DOI:10.1002/hpja.326. (Open access)

Cao S, Jones M, Tooth L & Mishra G. (2020) The effect of premenstrual syndrome on postpartum depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 121, pp.82-90. DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.11.010.

Copp T, Cvejic E, McCaffery K, Hersch J, Doust J, Mol BW, Dokras A, Mishra G & Jansen J. (2020) Impact of a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome on diet, physical activity and contraceptive use in young women: findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health. Human Reproduction, 35(2), pp.3994-403. DOI:10.1093/humrep/dez274. (open access)

Dobson A, Hockey R, Chan HW & Mishra G. (2020) Flexible age-period-cohort modelling illustrated using obesity prevalence data. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 20(16). DOI:10.1186/s12874-020-0904-8. (Open access)

Hickey M, Rio I, Trainer A, Marino JL, Wrede CD & Peate M. (2020) What information do healthcare professionals need to inform premenopausal women about risk-reducing salpingo- oophorectomy? Menopause, 27(1), pp.20-25. DOI:10.1097/GME.0000000000001421.

Get in touch

Email: wandcre@uq.edu.au
Phone: +61 7 3365 5197