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Next magazine launches women’s health survey

Next magazine launches national women’s health survey

Next magazine has launched its first national women’s health survey in its April issue, which goes on sale today. The survey aims to capture a snapshot of the health issues facing New Zealand women which will provide important information to health providers.

The survey canvases a range of topics from diet to exercise, stress and mental health, alternative therapies and cosmetic surgery. Health care experts have welcomed the survey as an invaluable tool for raising awareness and pinpointing key areas to target with information.

“Women’s health is our number one priority at Next. The survey results will be presented to healthcare providers and policy makers to inform them about New Zealand women’s health concerns and their behaviours in seeking advice. We will also be reporting back to our readers about the survey’s outcomes and how the results will be used,” says Susannah Walker, Editor of Next.

Next spoke to a range of health specialists to develop the survey, including dieticians, general practitioners, mental health workers and fitness experts.

“New Zealand women are facing more pressure than ever before to be physically and mentally healthy. All of the experts we consulted noted that the information overload on health and wellbeing has created confusion about how women can achieve a balanced healthy lifestyle,” says Ms Walker.

Margaret Bryant, an Auckland GP, says “The Next survey will help identify women’s areas of concern and in turn meet their needs for information.” She says important topics in women’s health include the rising incidence of breast cancer and for older women, menopause - particularly in the wake of the Hormone Replacement Therapy trial controversy in the United States.

Acting CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, Sue Turner, agrees that providing the right information is all critical. “There is a real need for more information to support women to help themselves pick up the signs and symptoms earlier rather than waiting for the crisis,” she says.

Next has a readership of 379,000 women. Almost two thirds are married and three quarters own their own homes. Two thirds are in paid employment, primarily in the professions. Next readers are well educated, with half having a tertiary qualification. They are active in discussing matters of importance and are concerned about health issues.

“Our readership is representative of New Zealand women. They want informed and accurate health and wellbeing advice and we have a responsibility to help meet that need,” says Ms Walker.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist, Andrew Ansari, believes identifying specific concerns will also help health-service providers to meet women’s needs. “It’s great to see a magazine assessing women’s health care issues,” he says. “The concerns of women are paramount in assessing health care needs and funding, so it will be interesting to know what really concerns them.”

The survey further demonstrates Next’s commitment to women’s health issues. In November every year a Breast Cancer Special Report is published to coincide with Breast Cancer awareness month and sections on health and wellbeing are included in each issue.

Next is also campaigning for the government to lower the eligibility age for free breast screening, and received more than 3,000 responses to a reader petition it ran in November 2004 on this issue. “The response to the mammogram campaign testifies our readers’ concern about their health. They take the issues seriously and seek well-researched and reliable information,” says Ms Walker. “The survey will help us tailor our content to our readers.”

The survey results will be collated and reported on later this year.


Facts about the status of New Zealand women’s health

• In 2001 the leading causes of death were cancer (26.1%), particularly breast, lung and colon; ischaemic heart disease (21.3%); and cerebrovascular disease (12.5%)

• Most frequent causes of hospitalisation are cancer, heart disease and mental and behavioural disorders (excludes pregnancy and childbirth related issues)

• New Zealand has the sixth highest mortality rate from breast cancer in the developed world – it kills 600 women annually

• Our breast cancer survival rate is 28% lower than Australia’s

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