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Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise
tion of consumers about how to gain access to the public health and health care systems, and (8) the development of telehealth applications [Atkin and Wallack, 1990; Backer et al., 1992; Eng and Gustafson, 1999; Freimuth et al., 1989; Harris, 1995; Jackson and Duffy, 1998; Maibach and Parrott, 1995; Northouse and Northouse, 1998; Ray and Donohew, 1990].
The committee met six times, including two open information-gathering sessions at which the members heard from stakeholders and researchers. Appendix A presents the agendas of those public meetings. During that time, the NIH ORWH held a series of scientific workshops and public hearings involving a variety of stakeholders (health-care providers, public-policy experts, advocates, and the general public) to gather information to update its women’s health research agenda. Committee members or IOM staff attended portions of those meetings so that they could be aware of ORWH research–priority development and hear further stakeholder input on research priorities in women’s health.
The committee conducted extensive literature searches related to women’s health research and on the translation and communication of research findings in numerous databases, including PubMed and Embase. The committee focused on research published in the last 15–20 years, which is roughly the period during which policies were implemented to promote women’s health research. The committee’s evaluation included research on biologically determined sex differences in health and research on the influence of social, behavioral, and environmental factors on women’s health. Searches were conducted both on studies of women’s health research in general and on specific diseases, conditions, and determinants of health. Because of the large number of published articles, summaries and review articles were used when possible. Data from a broad spectrum of research were reviewed, including clinical trials, observational studies, basic research (spanning human, animal, and cellular studies), and research on healthcare services, such as women’s use of and access to high-quality health care. The committee focused on research relevant to the health of US women and to differential effects in groups of women.
In light of the breadth of the topic and the enormous base of published scientific articles, reviews, and summaries, the committee does not provide a comprehensive summary of findings of research related to women’s health but instead identifies selected conditions in which there has been progress. In addition, health issues in which progress has been lacking or narrowly limited and in which additional research is needed are mentioned; the committee focuses on a few examples that make it possible to identify overarching lessons and recommendations.