VIU researcher examining pelvic health histories to help address gaps and inequities in care

Headshot of Dr. Whitney Wood.

Dr. Whitney Wood is researching pelvic health in 20th-century Canada. Photo courtesy of Dr. Whitney Wood.

March 15, 2023 - 10:00am

Dr. Whitney Wood received more than half a million dollars from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to pursue her study.

Studies on women’s health tend to focus on reproduction. Vancouver Island University (VIU) researcher Dr. Whitney Wood believes this has led to gaps and inequities in care.

Wood, VIU’s Canada Research Chair in the Historical Dimensions of Women’s Health, argues broadening historical research is important because these studies can inform current practice. 

“Understanding the historical roots of gaps in care that continue to disproportionately affect women, non-binary and gender diverse individuals, and those with reproductive organs historically classified as ‘female’ is an important first step to ongoing efforts to improve pelvic health care in 21st-century Canada,” said Wood.

Wood’s research project is called Pelvic Health and Public Health in Twentieth-Century Canada (PH | PH). She and her team are investigating the history of pelvic conditions, including endometriosis and urinary tract infections, from the 1960s to the 2000s. The project will also examine key sites of feminist activism and healthcare surrounding these issues.

“The fact that many of the pelvic health conditions we study include experiences of pain that are often invisible, chronic, feminized and dismissed in a range of health settings, means that telling these stories is especially important,” said Wood.

Wood and her research team will examine a range of sources to tell these stories including medical journals and popular magazines. The project will also digitize new archival materials, which will be available on Rise Up! a digital archive of feminist activism.

Oral history interviews with those who have lived experience of pelvic pain will be another important source of evidence. The first phase of the project will involve consultation with these patient partners. This initial work is supported by a $25,000 Patient Engagement Supplement Grant from Guiding interdisciplinary Research On Women’s and girls’ health and Wellbeing (GROWW), a CIHR-funded Health Research Training Platform that aims to train the next generation of scholars who are working in the area of girls, women and gender-diverse people’s health. 

Wood and her team received a Canadian Institutes of Health Research project grant of $577,575 to support ongoing research through 2028. 


Media Contact:

Rachel Stern, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.618.0373l E: | T: @VIUNews


Tags: History | Research

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