Approaches to Researching Women's Reproductive Health

Population Briefs, June 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Approaches to Researching Women's Reproductive Health


Since the late 1980s, comprehensive studies from Egypt, India, Nigeria, and Turkey have revealed the widespread prevalence of reproductive tract and other gynecologic disorders. These findings have prompted researchers to expand this work to explore the pervasiveness of these illnesses and to shed light on factors that place women at risk. But what are the best ways to conduct this type of research? Population Council senior program associate Shireen Jejeebhoy; Michael Koenig, associate professor, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University; and Christopher Elias, president, Program for Appropriate Technology, in Health (PATH), have collaborated on a book, Reproductive Tract Infections and Other Gynaecological Disorders: A Multidisciplinary Research Approach, that tackles this question. The editors draw upon the considerable experience of their contributing authors and provide a synthesis of the best approaches for studying this topic.

A spectrum of reproductive ailments can affect women. Reproductive tract infections (RTIs) are some of the most common. They can be transmitted sexually, produced by an overgrowth of normal microorganisms, or result from infections related to abortion, childbirth, sterilization, or the insertion of an intrauterine device. Women may also develop gynecologic cancers, endocrine disorders, genital prolapse (a painful condition in which the uterus or vagina is displaced downward), obstetric fistulae (a loss of tissue between the vagina and bladder and/or rectum caused by obstructed labor), infertility, sexual dysfunction, and menopausal symptoms. Discomfort caused by these conditions can impair a woman's ability to engage in a wide range of activities and can damage marital and sexual relationships and psychological well-being.

Although it is important to determine the prevalence of these disorders, it is equally crucial to understand their social, behavioral, and biomedical precursors. Jejeebhoy and Koenig offer a conceptual framework for exploring the social context of gynecologic disorders.

Key to this framework is the difference between disease and illness. Although many infections among women produce no symptoms, clinical examination and, in particular, laboratory tests can confirm the presence of disease. Conversely, many women who report symptoms have no medically verifiable disease. The authors underscore the fact that the association between self-reported, clinically diagnosed, and laboratory-tested conditions remains pool, and draw a distinction between disease, which can be medically confirmed, and illness, which involves women's perceived symptoms.

Best study practices

Researchers can employ community-based or facility-based studies to investigate women's reproductive health. When working within a community, a high level of rapport and interaction with the populace, including men and community leaders, is essential.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Approaches to Researching Women's Reproductive Health
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?