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University researchers working to improve women’s health across Ontario
Breast cancer survivors and women who have been victims of gender-based violence are among those whose lives could be transformed by novel research being carried out by this year’s recipients of the Ontario Women’s Health Scholars Award.
Five distinguished Ontario university scholars have received this year’s Women’s Health Scholars Award, earning scholarships of up to $50,000 to continue their important research with a goal to improve the health and well-being of women across Ontario. The annual awards are funded by the Ontario government and administered by the Council of Ontario Universities.
This outstanding work reflects Ontario universities’ commitment to providing a quality academic experience. One that fosters skills and provides a collaborative environment to enable the innovative research that can lead to improved services for women across the province.
For more information on how the awards are administered: Click Here
To learn about last year’s winners: Click Here
Karen Campbell’s research aims to reduce the incidence of gender-based violence by examining the effectiveness of a nursing intervention program for women who are separating, or taking steps to separate, from their partners.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health concern, across all sectors of society, and the negative effects on women’s health are well-documented and long-lasting. Post-traumatic stress, depression, and chronic pain are the most prevalent symptoms interfering with women’s quality of life.
The study will consider the intervention program’s effectiveness across geographical settings in both rural and urban areas to supports women’s health and the healing process.
The Intervention for Health Enhancement and Living (iHEAL) is a tailored, health promotion intervention developed to support women leaving situations of IPV. It is delivered by community health nurses in 10-18 sessions over 6 months in the context of available services.
Karen Campbell is a postdoctoral scholar at Western University, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing. She is interested in how community health nursing intervention programs can improve health and quality of life for women experiencing health inequities across diverse geographical settings, including rural communities.
Rhea Ashley Hoskin’s research aims to demonstrate that violence and discrimination against women and members of the LGBTQ+ community may in part be driven by a phenomenon that has been overlooked: prejudice against femininity and feminine qualities.
While attitudes such as homophobia, transphobia and sexism have been widely studied as predictors of violence, Hoskins’ project will look into the role of what is known as ‘femmephobia’ – the social devaluation and demotion of things and people that are deemed feminine. She argues that femmephobia is second nature in society, and passes almost unnoticed, making it important to carry out research aimed at understanding its role in violence and discrimination.
Her project involves two studies. The first will develop scales to measure femmephobic attitudes and experiences; the second will examine the prevalence of femmephobic attitudes and identify the groups of individuals who are most likely to be the target of such attitudes.
Rhea Ashley Hoskin is a feminist sociologist at the University of Waterloo, where she will be cross appointed in the departments of Sociology & Legal Studies / Sexuality, Marriage & Family Studies. The intent of her research is to develop interventions that will target femmephobia and mitigate its harms.
Robyn Jackowich’s research area of expertise focuses primarily on sexual health concerns, sexual wellbeing, and the experience of sexual arousal. Currently, she is seeking to better understand a distressing and poorly understood health condition called persistent genital arousal disorder (‘PGAD’).
Individuals with PGAD frequently report experiencing depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation—as well as a significant negative impact on their ability to complete daily activities (i.e., concentrating, working, and socializing). While awareness of this disorder is growing, there continues to be a lack of research on this condition, and the cause/causes are not yet well understood.
For her doctoral dissertation, she will extend these findings by investigating the role, and interrelationships, of sensory, blood flow, and psychosocial processes in PGAD to improve our understanding of the complex nature of PGAD, through self-reported questionnaires of mental health, quality of life, relationship and sexual functioning.
Robyn Jackowich is a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at Queen’s University. Her research aims to guide the development of effective treatments, help inform healthcare professionals and increase healthcare and public recognition of this debilitating condition.
Stéphanie Gauvin’s research aims to better understand the sexual health and well-being of women who experience chemically-induced menopause after undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The project is intended to create educational materials for women and health-care professionals on the sexual changes that may occur from such treatments, and identify potential targets for intervention.
Treatments for breast cancer can alter hormone balances and cause a wide array of side effects including menopausal-like symptoms known as chemically induced menopause. There is limited research on the sexual ramifications, but through a two-part study of women and their partners, Gauvin hopes to bridge the knowledge gap, comparing sexual health among women experiencing chemically induced menopause, natural menopause, and pre-menopausal women.
Stéphanie Gauvin is a PhD student in the clinical psychology program at Queen’s University. Her ground-breaking research can have significant implications for the management and recovery process of breast cancer survivors.
Sofia Melendez’s research aims to build better mental health supports for transgender women and to improve clinical education in order to close the gaps in trans health education among mental health workers. Her work will provide baseline information to inform research, health educators and policymakers to improve trans care education and alleviate the rates of trans health disparities across North America.
These gaps can have profound impacts on how clinicians support trans communities, especially trans women who are one of the most underserviced populations across North American healthcare systems. Research shows that trans people who have an inclusive and respectful clinician, have lower rates of depression and suicidal ideation, as well as better mental wellbeing.
In order to do this, she will first develop and validate a tool to measure trans mental health knowledge skills and attitudes of clinical students, then develop an online study of clinical psychology, social work, and counselling students and finally explore which educational factors are related to improved levels of trans mental health knowledge skills and attitudes among clinical students.
As a Master of Education student at Queen’s University, Sofia Melendez hopes her research will foster the inclusivity of gender and sexual diversity in the fields of higher education and healthcare.