newsGP talks to Associate Professor Vicki Kotsirilos ahead of a webinar series aimed to upskill GPs in women’s health.
As part of its celebration of Women’s Health Week 6−10 September in partnership with Jean Hailes, the RACGP is hosting a three-part webinar series which GPs can claim as continuing professional development.
The webinars focus on three key areas of women’s health:
Associate Professor Vicki Kotsirilos is presenting in the evidence-based natural therapies webinar, discussing their safety and effectiveness in supporting women’s health.
She told newsGP natural therapy is an emerging topic in the healthcare landscape.
‘There is widespread community interest in natural therapies, especially younger women who are seeking more natural approaches to managing their women’s health problems,’ she said.
‘This [webinar] will demonstrate how the GP can assist their patients and advise them appropriately, so they are informed well of all treatment options.
‘It builds on the existing knowledge of GPs to manage women’s health problems to provide more options, consider lifestyle first and if required, evidence-based safe natural therapies when proven pharmacological therapies are contraindicated or unhelpful.’
Alongside co-presenter Dr Carolyn Ee, who will present on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and menopause, Associate Professor Kotsirilos will cover PMS and endometriosis – all issues she says are ‘common presentations to most GPs’.
The webinar hopes to provide GPs with examples of the common natural therapies that most women are using for the management of these conditions, presenting the scientific evidence and safety issues that GPs should be aware of for integrative and natural therapies to best inform patients of the potential clinical benefits, potential harms, level of scientific evidence and risks associated with their use. Lifestyle and self-care will also be discussed during the webinar.
‘GPs will be able to well inform their female patients who present with women’s health problems; which self-care, lifestyle strategies and natural therapies hold the best scientific evidence, or lack of evidence, which may be of clinical benefit, and which therapies are potentially harmful or of risk to the patient,’ Associate Professor Kotsirilos said.
Despite emerging evidence for the use of natural therapies, there are still limitations with the scientific evidence, and the quality and duration of the trials and studies, according to Associate Professor Kotsirilos.
‘Whilst we are presenting the randomised control trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analysis for natural therapies to treat women’s health conditions, there is marked heterogeneity and variation of trials, therapies, products, doses, and research methods for these studies,’ she said.
‘Consequently, the results of the studies should be viewed with caution as they vary greatly between trials due to inconsistency in the reporting of data, poor methodological quality, and age of the trials.
‘Most studies are short-term, of poor-to-moderate quality and if anything of modest benefit. More long-term, high-quality research is required for natural therapies.’
The webinar will also focus on the safer self-care and lifestyle approaches to managing women’s health issues, such as appropriate diet, exercise, and stress management.
Associate Professor Kotsirilos hopes the webinar will arm GPs with the knowledge and confidence to best support women with their healthcare.
‘It is important for GPs to understand and weigh clinical decisions for any treatments by weighing the risks, benefits, evidence, cost of treatments, and what are the safe alternatives,’ she said.
‘For example, lifestyle and self-care such as diet and exercise are safe and can help manage women’s health problems. These approaches may not hold the highest level of evidence, but they do provide additional health benefits.
‘It is also important for GPs to be well-informed of the options of treatment of women’s health problems, to educate women on the safest options of treatments − especially those that are safe and hold the evidence.’
More information and to register for the webinars is available on the RACGP website.
The webinars will be recorded for those unable to attend.
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