In Touch
A Publication of the
Jacobs Institute of Women's Health

Volume 7, Number 1, March 1999

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Featured Articles:
Breakfast Seminar Highlights State Legislation
FDA Commissioner Henney, Huerta, and Ryan to Receive Excellence Awards
Jacobs Institute--Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Scholars
    Goodman Wins 1999 Award; Will Focus on Adolescent Mental Health
    '97 Scholar Unger Publishes Findings
On the Agenda


Breakfast Seminar Highlights State Legislation

In December, the Jacobs Institute convened a breakfast seminar in Washington to discuss women's health issues and trends in the states. The seminar was sponsored by The Monsanto Company and G. D. Searle and featured the editor of State Profiles on Women's Health and legislative policy staff from the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) discussing the status of women's health policy making at the state level and future trends. State Profiles describes women's health in each state, incorporating information on demographics, health status, insurance coverage, risk factors for illness, and health policy issues of particular relevance to women's health.

Jacqueline Horton, editor of State Profiles and senior epidemiologist/study director at Westat in Rockville, MD, described the usefulness of State Profiles as a single resource for needs assessment, funding proposals, program development, program evaluation, and creation of public policy. Specifically, however, she pointed out that the US population is rapidly changing. For example, in 1995, the number of women 75 years of age and over accounted for 10% of the population, and that age group continues to grow. "For women, there are very important issues to be addressed in the future based simply on the number of us who will survive longer," said Horton.

Joan Henneberry, program director for maternal and child health at the NGA's Center for Best Practices in Washington, DC, offered her insights on the status of health policy issues at the state level. "We are doing pretty well around the country in services for reproductive health, breast cancer, and cervical cancer," noted Ms. Henneberry, but, she continued, "The time is ripe to elevate awareness and advocacy for women's health in general."

According to Ms. Henneberry, states are focused on developing policy, albeit without allocating much new funding for programs. Ms. Henneberry went on to say, "The bad news is that there are not a lot of programs or service dollars available for women between their reproductive years and the time of eligibility for Medicare."

Molly Stauffer, program principal for the Health Policy Tracking Service of the NCSL, contributed a summary of women's health care legislation states are planning to address, based on a survey of states conducted by the NCSL. Every state's legislature responded to the survey, as well as some state legislative research bureaus and executive offices, for a total of 180 responses.

Ms. Stauffer observed that legislatures are moving away from policies aimed at specific providers or procedures. Instead, "they are looking at delivery of health care services in a broader manner," said Ms. Stauffer. Among the issues state legislatures said they plan to address this year are cancer screening, continuity of care (particularly for pregnant women), and coverage of contraception.

Copies of the NCSL's survey can be obtained by calling their Washington, DC, office at 202-624-3567. The 130-page document is $35 and includes an overview of states' responses and state profiles. State Profiles on Women's Health can be purchased for $30 plus $3.50 for shipping. Members of the Jacobs Institute automatically receive one free copy of State Profiles (individual membership is $55 annually). To order or for membership information, call the Jacobs Institute at 202-863-4990 or click here.up_arrow.gif (847 bytes)

FDA Commissioner Henney, Huerta, and Ryan to Receive Excellence Awards

Jane E. Henney, Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, is one of three people to receive the Jacobs Institute's 1999 Excellence in Women's Health Awards. Elmer Huerta, MD, director of the Cancer Screening Center at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, and Kenneth Ryan, MD, FACOG, professor at Harvard Medical School, will also be honored at the annual Excellence in Women's Health Awards luncheon Thursday, May 6, at the Swissotel/The Watergate, Washington, DC. For tickets or more information, call the Jacobs Institute at 202-863-4990.up_arrow.gif (847 bytes)

Jacobs Institute-Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Scholars

Goodman Wins 1999 Award; Will Focus on Adolescent Mental Health

Elizabeth Goodman, MD, of Children's Hospital, Boston, and the Harvard Medical School, was recently chosen as the 1999 Jacobs Institute of Women's Health-Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Scholar from a field of more than 60 applicants.

Dr. Goodman will use the $30,000, 12-month grant to examine the association between depression, socioeconomic status, and use of mental health and medical services among adolescent girls. She will specifically assess whether adolescent girls from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more vulnerable to depression and its subsequent effects, as well as whether the effects of social forces, such as socioeconomic status, have an effect on overall health and well being.

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), the source of the data, is a nationally representative study that includes 7,852 girls in grades 7-12 whose parents also completed an interview. Add Health studied the multiple contexts and environments of adolescent lives. According to Dr. Goodman, "While adolescent women are generally considered healthy, there has been little research to determine how social forces impact their health."

The study of depression among women has focused primarily on adult women and their families in recent years. "The adolescent years, once thought of as carefree, we now know can be very stressful for young women as they contend with societal forces beyond their control. We are excited about Dr. Goodman's project because of the large number of girls studied, the over-sampling of minorities, and the relative newness of the data," said Martha Romans, Jacobs Institute Executive Director.

Dr. Goodman is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School; in July, she will join the faculty of the Children's Hospital-University Medical Center of the University of Cincinnati. She is the recipient of the 1998 Children's Hospital Research Scholar Program Award. Dr. Goodman received her medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed her residency at Children's Hospital in Boston.

'97 Scholar Unger Publishes Findings

Latina women might be more likely to use effective contraception if they perceive that their friends and family members approve of contraception use. This finding is among those published by Jennifer B. Unger, PhD, 1997 winner of the Ortho-McNeil Scholar Award, in the November/December 1998 Women's Health Issues.

Unger, of the University of Southern California School of Medicine, and her co-author, Gregory B. Molina, BA, explored factors associated with contraceptive use among Latina women. They found social support for contraceptive use, lack of desire for additional sons, and low assimilation significantly affected contraception use. The data also suggested family planning programs could help Latina women increase their contraceptive use by addressing logistical, social, and economic barriers to effective contraception.

The study was conducted among 291 Latina women, ages 15 through 50 years, who were recruited from ob-gyn clinics in Los Angeles. The majority of the women were born outside the United States and had less than a high school education. More than two thirds reported that they or their partner used a contraceptive every time they had sex.

To order a copy of Women's Health Issues, November/December 1998 issue, call the Jacobs Institute at 202-863-4990 or click here.

Finding ways to improve the delivery of health care services to women is the focus of the annual Jacobs Institute-Ortho-McNeil Award. Research that considers the historic lack of research on women's health and the importance of social, cultural, legal, economic, and behavioral factors influencing the financing and delivery of health care to women is eligible. The application deadline for the 2000 award is October 15, 1999. For grant instructions, call the Jacobs Institute at 202-863-4990 or click here.up_arrow.gif (847 bytes)

On the Agenda

May 22-26, National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund's Seventh Annual Advocacy Training Conference, Washington, DC. Conference will include workshops on advocacy, plenary sessions on new research, speakers, and lobbying on Capitol Hill. For more information, contact McVeigh Associates at 877-628-3444, ext. 170. (Limited scholarships available; applications due April 2.)

June 13-15, Third Biennial Osteoporosis Public Policy Leadership Forum, Washington, DC. The forum will focus on advocacy techniques and current osteoporosis research and help attendees prepare for meetings with federal legislators. For more information, call Bente Cooney at the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 202-223-2226.

August 2-4, National Conference on Health Statistics: Health in the New Millennium: Making Choices, Measuring Impact, Washington, DC. Conference provides a national forum for discussion about uses of data, data needs, presentation of new information about National Center for Health Statistics programs and resources, and information on state and local initiatives. For information, visit the NCHS website at www.cdc.gov/nchswww/nchshome.htm.

Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment at School, and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace are new brochures from the Equal Rights Advocates. They answer basic questions on the issues and include a referral list of agencies. First 10 copies of each brochure are free; additional copies are 15 each for nonprofits and 50 each for others. For more information, call the ERA Publications Department at 408-621-0672.

Women and Colorectal Cancer is a new patient-oriented brochure from the Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research and the American Digestive Health Foundation. Free copies in English or Spanish are available by calling ADHF at 800-668-5237 or through the ADHF website at www.adhf.org.

National Directory of Women of Color Organizations and Projects, 2nd ed, includes contact information about projects affecting Native American, Asian American, African American, and Latina women indexed by issue, state, and race/ethnicity; also available on disk. The directory is 19.95 plus $3 shipping. Contact the Women of Color Resource Center at 510-848-9272 or visit their website at www.coloredgirls.org.

Scholars Program in Women's Health, research grants from Pfizer and the Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research, will award nearly $600,000 over the next three years to medical school faculty to advance scientific research on women and cardiovascular disease, mental health, or reproductive biology. For information and an application, call 800-210-1214.

Improving Adolescent Health: An Analysis and Synthesis of Health Policy Recommendations, by the National Adolescent Health Information Center, reviews over 1,000 policy recommendations, identifies areas of consensus and strategies for implementation, delineates barriers to implementation, and highlights new areas of concern. For a copy of the full report ($25) or the Report Summary (no charge), contact the NAHIC at 415-502-4856 or send e-mail to [email protected]up_arrow.gif (847 bytes)