Jodie Dakic receives the Dean’s Award for Excellence for her work on pelvic floor disorders in exercising women

Congratulations to Jodie Dakic on receiving the MDHS Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Research. This award, valued at $1000, recognises outstanding achievements by Graduate Researchers across the Faculty.

Jodie headshot

Jodie’s research

Physical inactivity is a global concern, and women participate in organised sports and exercise at lower rates than men. One in three women experience pelvic floor symptoms such as urinary incontinence when playing sport, rising to up to 80% in those playing high-impact sports. Jodie’s thesis, through a mixed-methods study design, investigates the impact of pelvic floor symptoms on women's participation in sports and exercise.

Firstly, a systematic review found that for one in two symptomatic women, urinary incontinence impacted their ability to exercise and revealed a scarcity of evidence of the impact of other types of pelvic floor symptoms. A subsequent observational study of 4,556 Australian women with pelvic floor symptoms found that half of these women ceased specific exercises due to pelvic floor symptoms.  Our qualitative and survey studies revealed critical gaps in pelvic floor symptom screening and management within Australian sports and exercise settings. This research revealed the substantial impact of pelvic floor symptoms on women’s ability to engage in sports and exercise and the need for implementation of supportive screening and management within these settings.

The thesis resulted in six publications in Q1 journals and multiple conference presentations including awards at International and National conferences. Translation of findings to industry practice has begun. Educational resources on pelvic health have been designed and delivered in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Sport Female Performance and Health Initiative, Collingwood Football Club, AFLW and the global Women’s Tennis Association. This research was only possible due to an excellent supervisory team including Primary Supervisor, Associate Professor Helena Frawley from the University of Melbourne, School of Health Sciences.