Improving understanding of depression, anxiety, eating symptoms, and sexual dysfunction in endometriosis

Psychological researchers at The University of Melbourne are investigating shared factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of depression, anxiety, eating symptomatology and sexual dysfunction in endometriosis. These are common but overlooked symptoms in this population.

Why we are doing this research

Research has consistently revealed that high levels of depression, anxiety, and eating symptoms are prevalent among individuals diagnosed with endometriosis. Moreover, these psychological symptoms frequently co-occur, and this psychological comorbidity has been associated with greater distress, functional impairment, and risk of suicide. Such findings demonstrate the complexity and clinical significance of this issue within endometriosis.

Sexual dysfunction is also an important area for research in endometriosis, with research suggesting that around 80% of women with endometriosis experience high levels of sexual difficulties. These difficulties contribute a significant burden of disease in endometriosis and has been associated with various complications, including infertility and poor general and sexual quality of life.

Whilst high levels of depression, anxiety, eating and sexual dysfunction have been detected, these symptoms are often overlooked in research and underreported in clinical practice. As a result, our understanding of the psychological factors that contribute to these symptoms is limited.

This research study aims to fill this gap by examining a range of possible psychological factors underlying these common symptoms. Findings will inform psychological interventions by providing important targets for improving existing treatments for depression, anxiety and eating, and the development psychological therapies for sexual dysfunction in endometriosis.

Objectives and aims of the study

Researchers and psychologists at The University of Melbourne aim to identify shared factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of depression, anxiety and eating symptoms and sexual dysfunction in endometriosis. To understand how these factors effect different populations, we will also be comparing effects to medically-ill samples and clinical populations.

This research asks:

  1. What are the psychological factors underlying the development and maintenance depression, anxiety, eating symptoms and sexual dysfunction in endometriosis and other populations?
  2. Are factors differentially related to psychological symptoms in endometriosis, compared to other populations?

This research represents an important opportunity to increase clinical understanding of these common and highly comorbid symptoms and inform effective psychological interventions.

How is the study carried out?

Participants complete two surveys (via phone or computer) on an online secure website. Survey 1 is approximately 30-60minutes in length involving questions of a personal nature, relating to personal experiences and psychological and physical health. Participants are not required to provide lengthy responses. We appreciate your time, so we’ve designed the survey in a way that allows you to take breaks and return to your spot within a week or so.

In 6-months time, participants will receive an email invite to complete a second final, shorter, survey (30-minute duration).

We encourage individuals globally to participate, however only individuals located in Australia will be eligible to receive a A$30 voucher upon completion of survey 2.

The data collected from this study will serve as part of PhD projects at The University of Melbourne and will be used to examine psychological models.

What are the risks of the study?

While we do not anticipate many risks of participation. The survey used in this study asks questions regarding personal topics that some participants may find sensitive or concerning, and as such mood may be negatively affected. If at any stage participants feel uncomfortable by any of the questions asked or topics covered, they are free to withdraw. If participants feel any distress regarding any of the questions or the topics it covers, they are encouraged to contact the principal researcher, or 24-hr counselling services such as LifeLine (13 11 14) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636).

What are the benefits in participating?

We cannot guarantee or promise that participants will receive any benefits from this research. However, participation will contribute to the information that may be of benefit to others in the future who are experiencing issues such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders. We hope to disseminate the results we find in possible publication(s) and conference proceedings.

How will my confidentiality be protected?

All information which participants provide will remain strictly confidential, subject to legal limitations and mandatory reporting requirements. All responses provided will be stored in a password protected file on the University of Melbourne server, and will only be accessed by the researchers involved in this project. Only members of the research team will have access to your raw data. Once all identifiable information has been removed, de-identified responses may be shared with other researchers or made available in online data repositories. Any data published will be interpreted and reported at the group level, and, as such, individual responses will not be identifiable. All electronic files will be retained for at least five years after the Master/PhD thesis submission or publication.

How to participate?

Any individual aged 18+ years of age is eligible to participate, from any part of the world, however, only individuals located in Australia will be eligible to receive a A$30 voucher.

Participants can access survey 1, which is available until 31 December 2022, here:

Where to get further information?

If you would like any further information concerning this project, please do not hesitate to contact the principal researcher Dr Litza Kiropoulos. This research has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC 2021-12495-20321-4). A summary of the initial research findings will be available after August 2022 and you have the option in the consent form to tick off a box indicating that you would like those findings to be e-mailed to you once they are available. If you have concerns about the conduct of this research project, please contact the Executive Officer, Human Research Ethics, The University of Melbourne Ph: +61 (03) 8344 2073 or Fax: +61 (03) 9347 6739.

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