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Women's Health Research Gains Ground, But Gaps Remain

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, September 29, 2010

Also, while an expanded focus in women's health research has led to decreased rates of female mortality from some diseases, which progress has not been felt by all women. Women who are socially disadvantaged because of their race or ethnicity, income levels, or educational attainment often have been underrepresented in many research studies, the report noted.

To improve the scope of women's health research in the future, the committee recommended that:

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) support research on common determinants and risk factors that found with multiple diseases.
  • NIH, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention develop target initiatives to increase research on the populations of women with the highest risks and burdens of disease.
  • Research include greater attention to assessing quality of life issues—for example, functional status or functionality, mobility, or pain—and promoting wellness.

The committee also observed that the public often has been confused by conflicting findings and opposing recommendations emerging from health research, including women's health research. Poor communication—on issues such as mammography—has led to confusion and could adversely affect the care of women, it said.

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