NIH News Advisory
Office of the Director

Wednesday, July 16, 1997

Ellyn Pollack

NIH Sponsors Meeting To Determine the Future
Direction of Women's Health Research

The Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) at the National Institutes of Heath is sponsoring a regional meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to address continuing and emerging issues in women's health research across the life span. This meeting will focus on health differences among populations of women, factors that contribute to the differences in their health status and health outcomes, and resulting biomedical and behavioral research needs.

A public hearing will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday, July 21, to enable representatives of organizations and individuals with an interest in biomedical and behavioral research on women's health to provide testimony to draw attention to scientific issues of public health interest. A scientific workshop will be held on July 22 and 23. Both events, which are sponsored by ORWH and hosted by the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, will be held at the Hilton Hotel, 100 Sandoval Street, Santa Fe.

The scientific workshop will focus on providing an opportunity to discuss women's health research, with particular reference to the differences among populations of women, continuing gaps in knowledge, emerging scientific issues, and career issues of concern to special populations of women scientists. There are four major objectives of the two-day scientific workshop. The first objective is to assess the differences among populations of women, such as those from diverse cultures, minority populations, the elderly, rural or inner city women, those affected by poverty and low socioeconomic status, lesbians, migrant farm women, and women with disabilities. The second objective is to examine the influence of race; culture; ethnicity; socioeconomic status; geographic environment; genetics; biological, psychosocial, behavioral, and education factors; traditional and cultural health practices; and public health practices on women's health from birth through the advanced elderly years and on women's health research. The last two objectives are to assess the current status of research on women's health, identifying gaps in knowledge, and recommending research strategies that can result in an improved health status for all women.

In 1991, ORWH convened a national meeting to assess the state of the science and to develop a research agenda for women's health. The report emanating from that meeting, Opportunities for Research on Women's Health, set forth the research recommendations developed by working groups that focused on the major stages of a woman's life span and on the scientific issues, diseases, and conditions that affect women's health. That report has served as the broad blueprint for women's health research at NIH.

Since that meeting, science has continued to advance our knowledge. But, from this expanded knowledge and attention to women's health, new public health issues and medical challenges have emerged. Therefore, ORWH is updating and revising the NIH agenda for women's health research for the 21st century, a process that will identify continuing or emerging gaps in knowledge as well as provide strategies to address these scientific questions. This workshop in Santa Fe is the last of three regional conferences. ORWH will sponsor a final national meeting November 17-19, 1997, in Bethesda, Maryland. Recommendations from the regional meetings will be reviewed for consideration in finalizing an overall report recommending priorities for research on women's health for the 21st century.