Back again? Health Professional’s Interactions with Women Presenting to the Emergency Department with Endometriosis Pain.

Rebecca Peel1, Helena Anolak2
1Federation University, Churchill, Victoria, 2Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia

Endometriosis is a progressive chronic condition, affecting approximately 1 in 10 women globally. Pain is a clinical symptom of the disease that often varies within the menstrual cycle and differs between women. Diagnosis can sometimes be suggested by symptomology however laparoscopy is the current diagnostic gold standard of endometriosis. Literature highlights the symptoms, treatments, investigations and complications of this aggressive, benign and debilitating disease. Along with these crucial inquiries investigators have conducted studies that delve into the experience of women with endometriosis within the health care system. What is lacking is discourse surrounding the experience of women who present to the Emergency Department (ED) with pain related to their endometriosis.

Pelvic or abdominal pain is a common presenting complaint to an ED; people who arrive with pain generally receive appropriate analgesia. Women with endometriosis may have regular presentations to the ED costing Australia billions of dollars annually in health care costs and lost productivity. The variability of pain and other symptoms experienced by women contributes to a 7-year delay in diagnosis. Frequent visits to ED for pain associated with their menstrual cycle may raise the suspicions of ED health care professionals, who may suspect drug-seeking behaviour. These reservations are likely to affect therapeutic interactions and compromise patient safety. This presentation will specifically explore the attitudes of health care professionals within the emergency department and how they interact with women who present to the ED with pain related to endometriosis.


Rebecca Peel: I am a critically care trained intensive care and emergency nurse, with my most recent experience in emergency nursing. My previous teaching experience includes as an undergraduate clinical facilitator, a clinical nurse educator and a lecturer at the University of Ballarat. I am now based at Federation University in Gippsland, where I teach undergraduate nursing students. My research interests include acute care and the patient experience.

Helena Anolak: I am a mother, writer, nurse and midwife with a wealth of experience in differing aspects of Nursing and Midwifery practice. I have lived and worked as a registered nurse/midwife in Australia, Edmonton- Canada and Manchester- United Kingdom. Over the past four years I have taught Nursing at Federation University and Midwifery at Central Queensland University. I am now based at Flinders University in Adelaide where I teach into midwifery and women’s health topics. My research interest is firmly embedded within the fields of women’s health and midwifery namely in law and ethics. I also enjoy implementing creative strategies to enhance the experience women have whilst navigating various health care system.