Research and data gaps

Research and data gaps

Significant data gaps exist in Australia in relation to sexual and reproductive health and rights. As a result, there is a lot of data and information we lack, particularly in the following areas:

  1. Sexual and Reproductive Health Research, particularly with regards to:
    • Abortion: There is no national data collection on abortion, including medical abortion and so we can not estimate:
      • The extent of induced abortions amongst population sub-groups
      • The socio-economic characteristics of women who have abortions
      • Information about the use of contraception at the time of conception
      • The rate of use of surgical versus medical abortion
      • Measures of out-of-state procedures (ie the state or territory where a termination procedure was carried out is not the women’s usual state or territory of residence
      • The reason for abortion
    • Contraception: There are no routinely collected data on contraceptive use in Australia that is both reliable and complete. Understanding these trends and patterns is consequently fragmented and limited. There is also a lack of social, geographic and demographic data on contraceptive users.
    • Unplanned pregnancy: There are currently no processes in place to collect data on unplanned pregnancy, including socio-demographic information and decision-making information.
    • Men’s sexual and reproductive health
  2. Social Determinants, particularly with regards to:
    • The socio-demographics data of infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
    • STI prevalence amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
    • The sexual and reproductive health of immigrants and refugees:
      • How well sexual and reproductive health is incorporated into settlement programs
      • Potential barriers to accessing services, particularly with regards to counselling for sexual assault and pregnancy
      • Best-practice modules
      • Uptake of sexual and reproductive health services, including pap smears, STI tests, and use of long-term contraceptives
    • The relationship between remoteness and social disadvantage, and how this impacts sexual and reproductive health outcomes
  3. Choice in the Timing, Spacing, and Number of Children, particularly with regards to:
    • The use of hormone therapy amongst transgendered people
    • The use of contraception before seeking and using the emergency contraceptive pill (EC) and what interventions may prevent repeat use
    • How different groups of Australian’s make contraceptive choices, and how these choices vary over time and according to social, geographical, and other factors
    • People’s perspectives of condoms (male and female) as protection from unplanned pregnancy, compared to protection from STIs
    • Prevalence, causes, and potential prevention of repeat pregnancy termination
  4. Freedom from Disease, Illness, Injury, and Misery, particularly with regards to:
    • What has driven an increasing trend of notification rates for all STIs in young people
    • The impact of the HPV vaccine and implications for ongoing cervical cancer prevalence and mortality amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and non-ATSI women.
    • Clarifying the benefits of male circumcision
  5. A Skilled and Experience Workforce, particularly with regards to:
    • GPs’ use of consultations with women to manage contraception, (particularly emergency contraception), and to undertake related health activities (e.g. Pap smears and STI tests)
    • Research into nurses, and potentially community health workers’, promotion and provision of LARCs, including training and support needs
    • Exploration of how to use bilingual workers to engage with non-English speaking communities, and how best to use translators working in SRH
    • Analysis of how the health workforce manages the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) and what the best approach is to ensure women who have undergone FGM achieve the best sexual and reproductive health outcomes possible
  6. Positive Self-image and sexuality, and safe, respectful relationships, particularly with regards to:
    • The experience and needs of vulnerable groups, including intersex and transgender people, people with disabilities, older people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and young people.
    • The relationship between alcohol use and abuse and contraceptive use, unplanned pregnancies, emergency contraception, abortion, and STIs
    • The emerging and increasing uptake of female genital cosmetic surgery
  7. Comprehensive Sexuality and Relationships Education and Health Promotions sexuality education in primary schools, particularly with regards to:
    • The specific information and education needs of people from different population groups, including immigrants, refugees, GLBQTI people, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, prisoners, sex workers, and people with a disability
    • Peer-led and peer-based sexuality education, targeted social marketing campaigns, the use of mobile and electronic media, and school-based education tools
  8. Health Policy, particularly with regards to:
    • Enabling women to take both medical abortion medications at home
    • The impact of Australia’s HPV vaccine programme and the planned introduction of the vaccination for boys in 2013
    • How Australian legislation and policy can best respond to FGM