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Global Research Update #34

Winkler et al., 2020: The Politics, Promises, and Perils of Data: Evidence-Driven Policy and Practice for Menstrual Health. Several scholars from multiple disciplines discuss questions about data as a continuation of a conversation that took place at the biennial conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research in Colorado Springs in June 2019. Researchers agree data collection is both a necessary and a complicated part of uncovering neglected issues and aiding in prioritisation of those issues by policymakers. The analysations of data can determine policy and programme decisions to improve menstrual health (MH) education and awareness. However, the decision of what data is collected or not is not an accident; therefore, data is political. The scholars discuss the unreliability of using participant recall for data, lack of funding for research, and complying with donors to produce a certain type of data. They highlight the increase in use of technologies to track menstrual cycles and as a result have improved the accuracy and amount of data collected on the subject. Other problems arise such as data privacy and political issues such as the funders or creators of the app and who financially supports them. Additionally, they express concerns over the lack of inclusion of participants in the decisions making process for improvements of MH programmes. To conclude, risks are inevitable, but together better awareness of communication, contextualisation, and collaboration in future MH studies can address them.

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