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Veronika Fialka-Moser Diversity Award 2024 for outstanding contributions to diversity

MedUni Vienna honors achievements in diversity in the categories of Initiatives and Theses
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Michaela Fritz, Ulrike Eigenbauer-Stein, Christoph Veigl, Pia Rottjakob, Sebastian Schnaubelt, Jessica Dyna Stöger, Henriette Löffler-Stastka, Witta Monika Strobl, Margarete Steiner, Dorota Sluková, Günther Hofbauer, Karin Windsperger-Taheri, Franz Kainberger, Anita Rieder

(Wien, 02 April 2024) Every year, MedUni Vienna awards the Veronika Fialka-Moser Diversity Prize to people and projects that deal with diversity in medicine. This year's winners were honored at an awards ceremony.

In order to specifically promote a conscious approach to diversity at the Medical University of Vienna, MedUni Vienna awards the Veronika Fialka-Moser Diversity Prize every year. The aim is to reward achievements in this area and make diversity more visible. The prize is named after Prof. Veronika Fialka-Moser, Professor of Physical Medicine, in recognition of her many years of dedication in the field of diversity management at MedUni Vienna. April 2, 2024 is the tenth anniversary of the death of Prof. Veronika Fialka-Moser.

This year, the prize was awarded for outstanding contributions in the categories of Diploma/Master's Theses and Initiatives. Prize money is given in each category. Employees, graduates and students of MedUni Vienna were able to submit entries.

Diploma/Master's Thesis Category

First place: Jessica Dyna Stöger
Supervisor: Hans Popper

Obstacles to and opportunities for palliative medical care for marginalized people - a care ethics perspective

In the course of her master's thesis, Jessica Dyna Stöger investigated access to adequate palliative care for marginalized people. Qualitative interviews were conducted with doctors, qualified nurses and social workers to shed light on the barriers to admission to a tertiary center (palliative care unit, hospice). This led to successful networking. On the one hand, there are experts in palliative care, and on the other hand, there are experts in the care of marginalized people. Through the qualitative study, contacts were established and valuable resources assessed in the care of marginalized palliative patients. While writing the master's thesis, further contacts were established with doctors, nurses and social workers who mainly deal with marginalized people. It was possible to raise awareness of the special needs of patients in a palliative setting. This should also provide those affected with easier access to adequate palliative care in the future. Sustainability is being researched in a further qualitative study. Namely, whether the special needs of our patients could be adequately met AND whether the palliative care team is up to these challenges while maintaining a high level of compassion.  

Second place: Pia Rottjakob
Supervisors: Agata Laszewska, Judit Simon

The Relationship between Reproductive Health Behavior, Reproductive Health Knowledge and Health Literacy among Women in Vienna

The study surveyed women (female sex) aged 18 to 49 years from all districts of Vienna. The project examined the relationship between general health literacy, reproductive health knowledge, reproductive behaviors, and also included socio-demographic and economic factors. Results showed that the majority of participants had problematic general health literacy and that reproductive health knowledge and behaviors were associated with factors such as age, education, and marital status (partnership and children) in addition to general health literacy. The study highlights the importance of considering the relationship between women's reproductive health and their general health literacy. Recommendations for interventions to improve reproductive health literacy were developed.

Third place: Dorota Sluková
Supervisors: Carola Deischinger, Alexandra Kautzky-Willer

The effects of gender affirming hormone therapy on the insulin system: an exploratory case-control study

The effects of gender affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) on the insulin system and lipid content in liver, pancreas and myocardial tissue were investigated as part of the diploma thesis. This is a case-control study in which 16 transgender men and 22 transgender women were compared with cisgender female and male controls. All subjects underwent an oral glucose tolerance test to assess glucose metabolism and magnetic resonance imaging to determine intraorgan lipid content. Furthermore, several insulin indices were also calculated, which serve as surrogate markers for the functionality of the insulin system from several perspectives. In addition, possible correlations of hormone concentrations and treatment duration with markers of insulin system functionality were also investigated. The thesis is part of an ongoing study that will subsequently collect longitudinal data on the issues and is the first to investigate the effects of GAHT and lipid content in the pancreas and myocardium.

Initiatives Category

First place: Witta Monika Strobl

Diversity work for the acceptance of transgender people in everyday professional life at the Medical University of Vienna 

Transgender people are often confronted with prejudice and discrimination in professional life and in the medical system. Since her own gender transition in 2009, Witta Monika Strobl has given a total of 18 lectures on various aspects of the transgender experience as part of the Gender Mainstreaming and Diversity Department's Gender and Diversity Lecture Series. Her aim was to help students to approach transgender people with empathy. In order to enable the audience to better relate to transgender people, she used her own life experience as an example. As a founding member of the rainbow group at the MedUni and the AKH, Witta Monika Strobl contributed to the establishment of a contact point for all LGBTQIA* people at the university. Through her visibility in teaching and research, she was able to bring many students, academic staff and collaboration partners closer to the transgender topic.   Witta Monika Strobl is a member of the interdisciplinary expert group "trans*Inter* Gender - Psychotherapy" of the Austrian Professional Association of Psychotherapists and founded and supervised a support group for adult transgender people at the Courage Vienna Counseling Center.

Second place: Sebastian Schnaubelt, Christoph Veigl

Diversity of resuscitation manikins in the training of laypeople

Resuscitation dummies should simulate the conditions of a resuscitation as realistically as possible and offer participants the opportunity to practice life-saving measures in a controlled, protected environment. Studies have shown that the willingness to practice, the commitment during the training, but also the acquisition of knowledge and the sustainable anchoring of the knowledge in the long-term memory are better if the trainees can identify with the manikin. It is also well documented that women and people with different skin colors are significantly less likely to be resuscitated by laypeople in an emergency. The reasons for this are suspected to be fear of exposing the female chest for resuscitation on the one hand and a lack of identification of the first aider with the person to be resuscitated on the other. To date, manikins that resemble a young, slim, well-trained, white man have been used almost exclusively around the world - in other words, in very few cases actually the person who will suffer a cardiac arrest "in real life".

By using and evaluating female dolls as well as dolls with different skin colors and body types, the project partners want to contribute to solving these problems. In cooperation with PULS, the Austrian Cardiac Arrest Awareness Association (, which aims to train laypeople and raise awareness of resuscitation in Vienna, they want to use the manikins in resuscitation training courses for laypeople. Due to the limited availability from the manufacturers, they will also test various very inexpensive "do-it-yourself" versions of a female resuscitation torso. The basic aim is to increase the willingness of laypeople to resuscitate victims of cardiac arrest who deviate from the previous "standard" of the young white male and thus improve the probability of survival.

Third place: Karin Windsperger-Taheri, Daniela Dörfler

FGM/C register for girls, women and pregnant women

Female genital mutilation (FGM) or female genital cutting (FGC) of women and girls is a form of gender-based violence and a violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and a form of child abuse.
In order to assess the current state of medical and psychological care for FGM/C victims and to evaluate the impact of prevention work, the Crisis Outpatient Clinic of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Medical University of Vienna (Daniela Dörfler & Karin Windsperger-Taheri) would like to establish an FGM/C register for girls, women and pregnant women. The primary goal of the registry is the prospective and structured pseudonymized data collection of girls, women and pregnant women with FGM/C who present to an FGM/C special outpatient clinic in Vienna (Vienna General Hospital, Landstraße Clinic, Ottakring Clinic) or who are in care. Once the register has been successfully established in Vienna, data collection will be extended to the whole of Austria. Data will be collected in the following categories: demographic factors, medical history, gynecological examination, surgical therapy, psychosocial aspects, pregnancy care, birth, neonatal outcome, postpartum care.

The comprehensive evaluation of the current situation in the care of FGM/C victims with the establishment of an FGM/C register should form the basis for identifying starting points and key areas of work (e.g. the creation of standardized guidelines) that could further improve the medical and psychological care of girls and women from migrant countries in Austria as well as prevention work in the future.