Book Examines Influence of Women in Shaping Health Care

Exploring gender issues in U.S. health care in order to develop a women's health policy

From 1994 to 1997, Carol S. Weisman, PhD, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, examined contemporary issues in the health care of women in the United States. Her goal was to provide insights for policymakers and providers, and to improve health services for women within a changing health care system.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research program.

Key Results: Under the grant, Weisman:

  • Authored a book, Women's Health Care: Activist Traditions and Institutional Change, which was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1998. As of February 2000, Women's Health Care had sold more than 1,500 copies.

In the book, Weisman questions contemporary assumptions about the health care of women in the United States and draws these conclusions:

  • Looking at patterns of health care use, Weisman found that women and men use different arrays of health care providers.
  • Although gender-neutral policies may be politically appealing, Weisman cautions that they neglect gender differences in health care financing and access in the United States.
  • Weisman cautions that there is a need for better-quality measures to compare various delivery models and to analyze patient satisfaction and outcomes more scientifically.
  • In the current health care climate, access for certain underserved groups to at least a minimal level of care depends on the survival of specialized reproductive health clinics.
  • Women's health advocacy and interest groups are important partners in health policymaking: they draw attention to health problems, they mobilize support for public policy and they provide balance to the interests of professionals and politicians.

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