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Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise
Focus of Charge
Given the breadth of its charge, the committee developed a series of questions to focus deliberations and ensure appropriate response to the charge. Although not officially outlined in the statement of task, the questions provided more specific tasks for the committee to use in addressing its overall charge. The questions are presented in Box 1-4. The committee refers to those questions in this report to link the information in the various chapters to its charge.
Framework for the Committee’s Work
Women’s health research (like health research in general) traditionally has been conducted with an organ- or disease-based approach. With advancing knowledge, however, it has become apparent that a woman’s health encompasses more than the sum of the absence or presence of discrete disease states and is much more complex. Moreover, health and disease are influenced by a number of factors and the interplay among them, including genetics; physiologic, psychologic, social, and environmental forces; and growth, development, and aging. Health research has expanded to be interdisciplinary and collaborative among specialties (for example, a clinical trial might be developed and conducted jointly by internists, oncologists, cardiologists, epidemiologists, psychologists, and nutritionists). The present committee was faced with a decision of whether to work with a disease-based framework, in keeping with the conduct and funding of most of the research reviewed, or to take an interdisciplinary approach by incorporating multiple determinants of health and considering health outcomes in addition to disease. The committee used both approaches. In Chapter 2, health determinants are discussed in the context of an ecologic framework that distinguishes
Committee Questions to Focus Deliberations
Is women’s health research studying the most appropriate and relevant determinants of health?
Is women’s health research focused on the most appropriate and relevant conditions and end points?
Is women’s health research studying the most relevant groups of women? For example, are women with sociodemographic characteristics that place them at higher risk adequately studied?
Are the most appropriate research methods being used to study women’s health?
Are the research findings being translated in a way that affects practice?
Are the research findings being communicated effectively to women?