Our work on unmet needs in women's health is shortlisted for an MRS Award

8 Oct 2020

We're incredibly proud of a recent piece of work completed for the Women's Health Tech Hive, designed to scope out and unpack unmet needs in women's health. And we're doubly proud that we've been shortlisted as a finalist in the MRS Awards for this work.

It stems from an understanding that there is a significant data gap across society generally and healthcare specifically, and that the lack of sex-disaggregated data is having a real impact on women's lives and health. The Health Tech Hive will be working to address this. But first they needed to understand what gaps are out there.

The problem with doing just an academic literature review is that we don't know what hasn't been researched - finding an invisible unknown. So instead they turned to us. We were able to use our platform to tap into real, unmoderated conversations between women online - looking at health discussion forums, parenting forums, social media, charities, book reviews, advice columns - anywhere that women might be talking about their health in an informal context.

We were then able to identify the key areas of unmet need from conversations about late diagnosis, dealing with pain, difficulties with doctors, or lack of provision. These key areas ranged from those which affect those with women's bodies specifically, such as endometriosis or vulvodynia, to those conditions experienced by all, but differently - such as the difference in common symptoms for a heart attack, or the claim that a diabetes diagnosis comes several years later for a woman than a man.

In order to contextualise these key areas, we stepped back and performed a broader analysis of the data gap as a whole. We identified 8 macro-causes of the data gap, different explanations and reasons why women's needs aren't being met. These included patterns of women being disbelieved by medical professionals, the ways in which women's pain is ignored and devalued, the burden of beauty standards, and the kind of 'invisibility' produced when women are assumed to be 'small men' - not to mention the impact of class, race and ethnicity.

We mapped each of the key conditions back against these macro-causes, allowing us to reveal broader patterns of behaviour.

We are thrilled that this piece of work has just been announced as a Finalist in the MRS Healthcare Award category for 2020. To view an abridged version of the research, please click here

Written by Hannah Marcus
With a background in semiotics and a newly-acquired MA in Cultural Studies, Hannah is almost too excited by overlaps in technology and feminism. Her hobbies include ballroom dancing and talking about her period.

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