American Nurses Foundation Funds Study Exploring Pathways to Endometriosis Diagnosis

American Nurses Foundation Funds Study Exploring Pathways to Endometriosis Diagnosis

The American Nurses Foundation has awarded a $9,999 grant to Martha Grace Cromeens, a nurse at the University of North Carolina Hospital, to explore new pathways for diagnosing endometriosis among diverse groups of women.

The grant, supported by the Virginia Kelley Fund, will back Cromeens’ yearlong study, “Qualitative Inquiry into the Pathways to Diagnosis of Endometriosis Across a Diverse Sample of Women.” The study is expected to be concluded in August 2020.

Endometriosis can be a difficult-to-diagnose disease, often requiring invasive surgery to achieve a final diagnosis. For many women, that leads to years of struggling with chronic pelvic pain, menstrual irregularity, painful intercourse, and infertility, often without access to proper care.

In addition to its severe physical manifestations, endometriosis can represent a heavy economic burden for women and substantially diminish their quality of life. In many women, endometriosis significantly affects their work productivity, causes anxiety and depression, and results in high medical costs.

The scientific community has been working to find strategies that could prevent such delays in endometriosis diagnosis.

Cromeens, also a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation, is joining this effort to better understand endometriosis and help all women affected by it.

She and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina will start by mapping the pathways for endometriosis diagnosis, according to a university press release. They will conduct qualitative interviews to acknowledge the experiences of women affected by the disorder, including detailed pathways for their symptom recognition, appraisal, and management.

Next, they will explore potential differences in these diagnosis pathways and experiences among a socioeconomically and racially diverse group of women.

As Cromeens noted in the project’s abstract, “women of lower socioeconomic status (SES) and minority races have been underrepresented in endometriosis research.”  Despite efforts made to overcome this problem, “there is a large gap in the literature regarding the diagnostic pathways women travel and the pre-diagnostic period especially among lower SES and non-white women.”

Cromeens also plans to determine what factors and symptoms are shared among women who perceive their endometriosis diagnosis as timely, and among those who have experience a delayed diagnosis.

This analysis may help better identify patterns of endometriosis symptoms and manifestations that could be useful for clinicians to expedite endometriosis diagnosis.