Drawing on a major survey of Australian women conducted over time, this report examines contraception, women’s aspirations for motherhood, reproductive histories, problems with fertility and related treatment and advice-seeking behaviour, maternal health and wellbeing, and participation in the paid workforce.
Women's Health Australia is a longitudinal study that has been examining the health and wellbeing of Australian women since 1996. Also known as the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, the project conducts surveys with over 40,000 Australian women who were aged 18-23, 45-50, and 70-75 when the study began. Women’s Health Australia has assessed physical health among Australian women, including cardio-vascular disease, incontinence, reproductive health (menopause, hormone replacement therapy, hysterectomy), respiratory health (asthma), medication use, cancer, visual and hearing impairments, osteoporosis, obesity, dental and bone health, and chronic illness (diabetes, arthritis). Mental health issues have also been examined, including depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, and cognitive functioning.
Women’s Health Australia aims to assess women’s wellbeing from a psychosocial perspective, and so investigations into the health impact of life events and health behaviours have also been conducted, including the impacts of sociodemographic factors (employment status, economic status, relationship status, urban/rural/remote area of residence), violence, motherhood, smoking, alcohol use, illicit substance use, diet, physical activity and time use. In addition, Women’s Health Australia has assessed use of health services, including general practitioner, specialist and complementary and alternative medicine services, as well as medication use. The study has provided invaluable data about the health of women as they age.
Women’s Health Australia is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and is scheduled to continue until at least 2016.
The report was completed in 2009 and released in January 2010.