By Phyllis Greenberger. The non-profit advocacy organization, the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR), based in Washington DC is widely recognized as the thought leader in research on sex differences, and is dedicated to improving women’s health through advocacy, education, and research. Because of SWHR’s efforts, women are included in medical research, and scientists are looking at the different ways health and disease affect men and women and the reasons why. SWHR attributes its advocacy and communications successes to using evidence-based policy in multi-pronged education efforts, as well as to its involvement of a mix of healthcare providers and policy makers dedicated to improving women’s health. SWHR’s advocacy and communications efforts extend beyond lobbying legislators and regulators; it includes education of federal legislators and their staff; scientists who are employed by the federal government, academia, industry, as well as the public.
Advocacy and Communication with the Public
In addition to providing the latest research on conditions that affect women differently from men, SWHR’s education and communications efforts also emphasize that women need to become advocates for themselves and their families. SWHR is founded on the belief that health can be improved through research efforts and this new knowledge must be communicated and translated into individual care, which requires an up-to-date, current exchange of information between health care providers and their patients.
SWHR’s first major public educational effort was the “Woman Can Do” campaign, to educate and recruit more women about becoming involved in medical research. After the regulatory changes mandating women’s participation in research, SWHR was made aware of the facts that researchers had difficulty finding women to participate in research studies. In 2003 nearly 90 other organizations joined SWHR’s Alliance for Women in Clinical Research to educate women about medical research and ways they can participate. The campaign continues today and additional information can be found on the Women Can Do website .
To further help promote the importance of providing the public with valuable and accurate health research information. SWHR annually presents the “Excellence in Women’s Health Research Journalism Awards” to honor journalists who excel in this arena.
SWHR works to provide women, who make about three-fourths of the health care decisions in the United States, with advice that communication with healthcare providers is a two-way street and with the information that allows them to participate in decisions impacting themselves and their family members. SWHR’s educational programs and written materials, as well as our web site, also serve as resources for practitioners involved in women’s health issues.
SWHR is committed to ensuring that women’s health remains a high priority on the national agenda, that sex differences become more widely recognized as vital to healthcare treatment options and to advocating for increased funding for related research. SWHR will continue to partner with the widest possible range of healthcare providers and policy makers to gather evidence-based knowledge and then communicate it to Congress, the scientific research community, as well as to healthcare providers and the public.
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