Recognising endometriosis advocates: Ros Wood

Ros Wood is well-known as the co-author of one of the first books published on endometriosis for women with the disease, Explaining Endometriosis, and as the co-founder of the Endometriosis Association Victoria.

Ros Wood has championed endometriosis since the early 1980s when she was a member of the Women’s Health Resource Collective, and has written extensively on the disease.

She is the author of most of the pages on this website, which deal with the treatment options for endometriosis.

Getting involved in endometriosis

Ros – herself diagnosed with endometriosis – had been helping a friend who suffered from the disease, and quickly discovered there was little to no lay information available. Ros thus suggested that one of the Women’s Health Resource Collective’s leaflets focus on endometriosis.

Based on the overwhelming response, she co-implemented The Endometriosis Association Victoria – and so began her two-plus decades of efforts in the endometriosis arena.

Making a difference for women with endometriosis

The main focus of Ros’ work in the community has been writing and research. She maintains,

Everyone with a chronic condition needs accurate information in order to understand their condition, develop a productive partnership with their doctors, and make good decisions about their treatment. Endometriosis is a complex condition that usually involves choices and compromises.

Though her writings, Ros strived to explain the spectrum of symptoms, impacts and treatments so women could make informed decisions about how they would manage their condition.

Research can only shed light on the answers if the right research questions are asked. Doctors and patients have quite different experiences of the condition, and those experiences affect the way they see the disease, the research questions they want answered, and the knowledge gaps they wanted filled.

she said.

Long before the days of social media and Internet, when opportunities to connect with others were sorely limited, it became clear to Ros very quickly that many women had a long and difficult road to diagnosis.

However, trawling the medical literature reflected no such problem. In order to bring this significant issue to light, Ros’ first project looked at the length of time to diagnosis and highlighted some of the corresponding factors. Similar research was conducted simultaneously by organisations in the United Kingdom and United States. Ultimately, they were able to make doctors aware of the problems many women with endometriosis face in obtaining timely diagnosis.

Her second major research project focused on general practitioners’ knowledge, perceptions and attitudes about endometriosis and its symptoms, and how that affected their ability to recognise the disease and refer women appropriately. This important research revealed that GPs generally had a poor depth and breadth of understanding in relation to symptoms, and that endometriosis was usually one of the last diagnoses considered when a woman presented with symptoms. The results of this project have slowly but surely permeated the endometriosis arena, leading to more timely diagnoses and referrals.

Ros’ major achievements in moving the field of endometriosis forward

Ros’ efforts have led to countless accomplishments and progress in endometriosis, not the least of which include:

  • Book cover for Explaining endometriosis

    Explaining Endometriosis by Ros Wood and Lorraine Henderson

    Co-founder, Endometriosis Association Victoria (EAV) in 1981

  • Wrote and edited the EAV newsletter throughout the life of the organisation
  • Co-author with Lorraine Henderson, Explaining Endometriosis [Allen & Unwin; 2001. ISBN-10: 1865081337]
  • Co-founded and served as lay counselor for the EAV Endometriosis Clinic, an innovative programme utilising a shared care model wherein women had a consultation with the gynaecologist, followed by a consultation with a lay member of the EAV to explain and discuss their endometriosis, its treatment, and the impact of both on their lives
  • Conducted the ‘Pathway to Diagnosis’ research project
  • Conducted the ‘Diagnosing endometriosis: GPs’ knowledge, attitudes and views on diagnosis’ research project in conjunction with social researcher, Meg Montague.

Where is Ros Wood now?

Today, after more than 20 years of working in the endometriosis arena, Ros has shifted her focus to other areas of healthcare. She continues to develop extensive medical and health content, currently on medicines and their usage. To read more about Ros’ pioneering accomplishments, please visit http://endometriosis.org/news/support-awareness/endometriosis-association-victoria-celebrates-21-years/.

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