Dr. Samantha Dawson, an assistant professor in the Clinical Psychology program, received the 2022 Catalyst Grant from the Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) to fund her research project: ‘Establishing the Underlying Network of Affective and Unwanted Genital Symptoms in Women and Individuals with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder/Genito-Pelvic Dysaesthesia (PGAD/GPD)’. Dr. Katrina Bouchard, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Marta Kolbuszewska, a first-year MA student in the Clinical Psychology program, are co-investigators of the project.
The WHRI in partnership with the BC Women’s Health Foundation funded the Catalyst Grant competition to provide support for pilot studies in women’s and newborn’s health. Through the funding, Dr. Dawson aims to examine how negative emotions, emotion regulation strategies, and PGAD/GPD symptoms relate to one another using a method called network analysis.
Dr. Dawson’s research program focuses on identifying mechanisms contributing to sexual function in individuals and couples, with the goal of using these mechanisms to develop targeted interventions for sexual dysfunction. She is the principal investigator of the Sexuality and Well-Being Lab (SWell Lab). Kolbuszweska also works with Dr. Dawson in the SWell Lab.
Join us in congratulating Dr. Dawson, Dr. Bouchard and Marta on receiving this support for their research and for advancing women’s health research.
Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder/Genito-Pelvic Dysaesthesia (PGAD/GPD) is a chronic health condition characterized by unwanted, unprovoked genital sensations, without associated sexual interest or desire. PGAD/GPD is not well understood, but the condition affects up to 3% of women and individuals with vulvas. PGAD/GPD is highly comorbid with mental and physical health difficulties and negatively affects people’s ability to engage in basic daily activities. Unfortunately, we do not know what factors worsen PGAD/GPD symptoms over time, and no psychological treatments have been developed. Data from case studies and cross-sectional surveys reveal that PGAD/GPD symptoms are linked with negative emotions and difficulties regulating these emotions. The main purpose of our study is to examine how negative emotions, emotion regulation strategies, and PGAD/GPD symptoms relate to one another using a method called network analysis. The longitudinal design will address a critical knowledge gap by allowing us to examine how these associations evolve over time. This research will identify core mechanisms that maintain PGAD/GPD symptoms, which will inform the development of psychological interventions for this debilitating and distressing condition.
The Sexuality and Well-being lab (SWell Lab) is a research laboratory in the Psychology Department at the University of British Columbia. They are a group of psychological scientists who conduct multi-method research to identify risk and protective factors contributing to individuals’ and couples’ sexual health and well-being.
The Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) is devoted to improving the health and health care of girls and women, serving as a catalyst for research in women’s health and supporting an expanding national network of women’s health researchers, policy makers and health care providers.