L 10 SPECIAL SESSION: Women's Health Across the Lifespan: Refining the Focus, Adjusting the Lens

Thursday, 25 July 2013: 3:15 PM-4:30 PM
Description/Overview: This session will focus on the evolution of women’s health science over the past 4 decades and the relationship between the enlarging social and scientific perspectives to guide women’s health research. With the advent of the feminist movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, scientists in nursing and other fields embraced new frameworks for studying gender as well as new methodologies for investigating women’s health. Within the nursing discipline, investigators redefined women’s health from “gynecology” to “gyn-ecology”, emphasizing the importance of understanding the context in which women lived their lives as foundational to an understanding of their health. In addition, investigators incorporated feminist theory and methodologies into their work, putting women at the center of investigations and seeking understanding of women’s own perspectives on their health. Transformation of data-gathering approaches to elicit women’s own experiences paved the way for synthesizing diverse frameworks with which to link observations of women’s biology with everyday life events in an effort to understand health. Within and beyond the discipline of nursing, a surge of political interest about women’s health prompted revision of science policy as well as support for research, resulting in milestones such as the development of the National Center for Nursing Research and the first Office of Women’s Health Research in the National Institutes of Health in the US and the first NIH Women’s Health Research Agenda published in 1991 and updated each decade. Recent evaluations of the impact of women’s health research indicate areas of progress as well as challenges remaining for the future. Studies focusing on the menopausal transition will be used as exemplars to illustrate the relationship between transformations in methodologies and scientific approaches to understanding women’s health, relationships of women’s health to the sociopolitical context of women’s lives, and changing science policy. Adjusting the lenses through which we view women’s health by viewing women’s health problems from the perspectives of multiple disciplines prompts a continuing critical review of scientific progress and proposals to address future challenges in women’s health research.
Learner Objective #1: 1. Synthesize frameworks for studying women's health
Learner Objective #2: 2. Identify significant milestones in the study of women's health over the past four decades and challenges for future research
Organizers:  Nancy Fugate Woods, PhD, RN, FAAN, Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Moderators:  Kristin Stegenga, PhD, RN, CNS, CPON, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO