Research Statement Essay Example

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5Research Statement

My research will focus on reducing maternal mortality and improving maternal care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women through initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles among women of child bearing age. The research tends to recognize the need for improving maternal health outcomes for indigenous women in Australia due to the high incidence of maternal mortality and perinatal death among indigenous Australian women. The research aims to provide evidence that will inform the formulation of policies and interventions beyond antenatal care as a means of reducing the high mortality rates among indigenous women in Australia.

The maternal health situation for indigenous women in Australia has been well documented by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2004) and the WHO (2005). The reduction in maternal deaths for indigenous Australians over the last two decades has been on average 30% less as compared to those of non indigenous Australians (Sullivan et al 2008). This has become a public health concern in Australia (Macklin and Roxan 2008) indicating that interventions aimed at reducing maternal mortality for indigenous women have been less effective than intended. The literature on maternal health for indigenous women in Australia showed a number of risk factors as contributing to the poor maternal health outcomes. De Costa and Wenitong (2009) indicated that the lifestyles of indigenous Australian women exacerbated their maternal health status; in reference to behaviours such as heavy alcohol and tobacco consumption among pregnant women and women of child bearing age in general which has adverse outcomes. Nel and Pashen (2003) reinforced the notion of unhealthy lifestyles citing poor nutrition and prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases among indigenous Australian women as additional risk factors to poor maternal health outcomes.Therefore, as shown by Biro (2011) and Panaretto et al (2005), antenatal care programs often include alcohol and tobacco cessation integrated into the care strategies for indigenous women.

My research explores the gap between policy and performance in the interventions and policies aimed at reducing maternal mortality. Most programmes as cited by DeCosta and Wenitong (2009) and Panaretto et al (2007) tend to focus on bringing antenatal services and care closer to indigenous women. Alternative approaches have highlighted areas of improvement such as providing culturally sensitive maternal care and exploring the possibilities of using midwives as public health agents (Biro 2011). However, reducing maternal mortality through promotion of healthy lifestyles has not been frequently explored as a policy option despite numerous references to the lifestyles of indigenous women as risk factors in maternal health (Nel and Pashen 2003). Lifestyle choices, in turn, are influenced by social disadvantage and as De Costa and Wenitong (2009) noted, improved access to antenatal care alone is not sufficient to resolve all medical as well as social problems for indigenous women. My research explores whether programs that focus on cessation of alcohol and tobacco consumption, sexual health and promotion of proper nutrition and diet for pregnant women and child bearing age are more effective as long term interventions as opposed to programs that target improved access to antenatal care.


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2004). The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ABS Catalogue No. 4704.0. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Biro, A.M. (2011). What has public health got to do with midwifery? Midwives’ role in securing better health outcomes for mothers and babies. Women and Birth 24 (1), 17-23.

De Costa, C.M., Wenitong, M. (2009). “Could the Baby Bonus be a bonus for babies?” Medical Journals of Australia 190 (5), 242-243.

Kruske, S.,Kildea, S., & Barclay, L. (2006). Cultural safety and maternity care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Women and Birth 19 (3), 73-77.

Macklin N., Roxan N. (2008). Media release: maternal deaths high for indigenous women. Canberra: Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (Jenny Macklin) and Minister for Health and Ageing (Nicola Roxon); May 2, 2008.

Nel, P., Pashen, D. (2003). “Shared antenatal care for Indigenous patients in a rural and remote community.” Australian Family Physician, 32(3), 127–131.

Panaretto, K. S., et al. (2005). Impact of a collaborative shared antenatal care program for urban Indigenous women: a prospective cohort study. The Medical Journal of Australia, 182(10), 514–519.

Panaretto, K.S., et al (2007). “Sustainable antenatal care services in an urban Indigenous community: the Townsville experience”. Medical Journals of Australia 187 (1) 18-22.

Sullivan E.A., Hall B., King J. (Eds.) (2008). Maternal deaths in Australia 2003—2005. Sydney: AIHW National Perinatal Statistics Unit; 2008 .

World Health Organization (WHO) (2005). The World Health Report 2005 Make every mother and child count, Geneva.