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Jacobs Institute of Women's Health
Milken Institute School of Public Health
The George Washington University
950 New Hampshire Ave., NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC  20052
Liz Borkowski, MPH
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202.994-0034

 

News > News Releases & Content Alerts

Recent news releases:

December 11, 2014: Women’s Health Issues Commentary Calls AHRQ Fact Sheets’ Treatment of Sexual and Reproductive Health Inadequate

November 6, 2014: Women's Health Issues Launches Special Collection on Women Veterans' Health

August 12, 2014: New Women’s Health Issues Commentary Recommends Steps to Take Full Advantage of the ACA’s Contraceptive Mandate

You can also read about featured Editor's Choice articles on our Free Featured Articles page.


December 11, 2014

Women’s Health Issues Commentary Calls AHRQ Fact Sheets’ Treatment of Sexual and Reproductive Health Inadequate

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has released a series of fact sheets on “staying healthy” for four audiences: women of all ages, women ages 50+, men of all ages, and men ages 50+.  An opinion piece online today in the journal Women’s Health Issues says the AHRQ fact sheets leave out important information on contraceptive services and other basics that are part of staying healthy.

The Commentary was authored by Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute. It appears in the January/February 2015 edition of Women’s Health Issues, the peer-reviewed journal of the Jacobs Institute for Women’s Health of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

In “What AHRQ Forgets to Tell Americans About How to Protect Their Sexual and Reproductive Health,” Sonfield notes that “contraceptive services and supplies are glaringly absent from the AHRQ fact sheets.” This is despite the fact that consistent, correct use of contraception allows for pregnancy planning and prevention – which, in turn, has numerous maternal and child health benefits. Sonfield also notes the omission of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine from the fact sheets’ lists of recommended vaccinations, and the inclusion of only one recommendation (folic acid supplementation) related to healthy pregnancies.

Sonfield criticizes not only the omission of several recommendations for specific services, but the fact sheets’ silence on the topic of access to and affordability of preventive services. The Affordable Care Act requires private insurers to cover recommended preventive services, including contraception, without cost-sharing, while Medicaid and publicly supported health centers improve access to preventive care.

The fact sheets’ recommendations appear to be based almost exclusively on recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Sonfield observes. This is despite the fact that other HHS agencies have endorsed many of the excluded recommendations. Sonfield urges the federal government to speak with one voice “so that the American public can fully benefit from the collective wisdom of the nation’s leading public health experts.”

Read the Commentary here.

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About Women’s Health Issues:
Women's Health Issues is the official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, and the only journal devoted exclusively to women's health care and policy issues. The journal has a particular focus on women's issues in the context of the U.S. health care delivery system and policymaking processes, although it invites submissions addressing women's health care issues in global context if relevant to North American readers. It is a journal for health professionals, social scientists, policymakers, and others concerned with the complex and diverse facets of health care delivery and policy for women. For more information about the journal, please visit http://www.whijournal.com.

About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, nearly 1,400 students from almost every U.S. state and more than 43 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.

 


Women's Health Issues Launches Special Collection on Women Veterans' Health

Journal highlights health issues facing female veterans, including high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder
Media Contact: Kathy Fackelmann, kfackelmann@gwu.edu, 202-994-8354

WASHINGTON, DC (November 6, 2014)—In honor of Veterans Day, the peer-reviewed journal Women's Health Issues (WHI) today released a new Special Collection on women veterans’ health, with a focus on mental health. The special collection also highlights recent studies addressing healthcare services, reproductive health and cardiovascular health of women veterans.

“In recent years, we have seen the Veterans Administration working to improve care and health outcomes of women veterans and service members,” said Chloe Bird, editor-in-chief of Women’s Health Issues. “The studies published in Women’s Health Issues can help inform efforts to provide the highest quality of care to the growing population of women veterans.”

Women’s Health Issues is the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, which is based at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. This Special Collection includes articles published after the WHI 2011 special supplement “Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military,” which is available free of charge online.

Among the featured articles on women veterans’ mental health, is a systematic review of recent literature on this subject by Jennifer J. Runnals, PhD, and colleagues from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Duke University Medical Center, which appeared in WHI’s September-October 2014 issue. The authors note that since 2000, the VA has witnessed a 33% increase in the proportion of women accessing outpatient mental health services, and new female VA users are often younger and show an increased use of VA healthcare services.

“The VA's commitment to ensuring equitable access to high-quality health care for women veterans of all ages has fueled a burgeoning field of research,” Runnals and her colleagues explain in their review of 32 recent studies on women veterans’ mental health. Their findings include the following:

  • Compared to male veterans, female veterans had similar rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), higher rates of anxiety disorders and depression, and significant mental health and medical comorbidities.
  • For both genders, multiple deployments and post-deployment relationship disruption were associated with increased risk for PTSD.
  • Barriers to women’s utilization of  the VA healthcare system included economic, organizational, and patient factors such as poor health.

The authors of the systematic review identify several content areas where additional research would be useful. These areas include best practices for the provision of gender-sensitive care; strategies to address treatment access and retention; and the impact of family reintegration and relationship disruption on women veterans’ mental health.

The Women’s Health Issues Special Collection on Women Veterans’ Health is available here, and all articles can be accessed for free until the end of November 2014. The 2011 Women’s Health Issues supplement “Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military” is available at http://www.whijournal.com/issue/S1049-3867(11)X0006-3, and all articles are open-access.
 
About Women’s Health Issues:
Women's Health Issues is the official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, and the only journal devoted exclusively to women's health care and policy issues. The journal has a particular focus on women's issues in the context of the U.S. health care delivery system and policymaking processes, although it invites submissions addressing women's health care issues in global context if relevant to North American readers. It is a journal for health professionals, social scientists, policymakers, and others concerned with the complex and diverse facets of health care delivery and policy for women. For more information about the journal, please visit http://www.whijournal.com.
 
About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, nearly 1,534 students from almost every U.S. state and more than 45 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.


New Women’s Health Issues Commentary Recommends Steps to Take Full Advantage of the ACA’s Contraceptive Mandate

Media Contact: Kathy Fackelmann, 202-994-8354, kfackelmann@gwu.edu

WASHINGTON, DC (August 12, 2014)—In the wake of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, a new Commentary in the journal Women's Health Issues emphasizes the importance of making the most of the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Commentary focuses on challenges beyond employer objections that could slow privately insured women’s full use of contraceptive benefits, and offers suggestions for "making the most of first-dollar contraceptive coverage."

The Commentary was co-authored by Carol S. Weisman, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Public Health Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Penn State College of Medicine, and Cynthia H. Chuang, MD, MSc, associate professor of medicine and public health sciences at the Penn State College of Medicine. It appears online today and in the September/October print edition of Women’s Health Issues, the peer-reviewed journal of the Jacobs Institute for Women’s Health of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

The ACA's requirement that private insurance plans (except those grandfathered or exempted due to employers' religious beliefs)  provide women with access to all FDA-approved contraceptive methods without cost-sharing. This first-dollar coverage "has the potential to dramatically shift contraceptive use patterns, to reduce the U.S. unintended pregnancy rate ... and to improve the health of women and families," Weisman and Chuang say. In particular, evidence suggests more women will choose highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) that previously would have been too expensive.

However, cost is not the only barrier women face when considering their contraceptive options. Many women may be uncertain about what their plans cover or unaware of the attributes of various methods now within their financial reach. Their primary care providers may not be trained in the provision of LARCs, and insertion of IUDs and implants may require referrals to obstetrician-gynecologists.

To address these challenges, Weisman and Chuang recommend clear communication to the public about the ACA contraceptive coverage mandate and to private-plan enrollees about their plans' contraceptive coverage, as well as training of primary-care providers and seamless referral arrangements between primary-care providers and those who can provide LARCs. In addition, they call for the "design, assessment, and dissemination of woman-centered information and decision tools to help women make optimal contraceptive choices in the context of their own life circumstances and preferences." The Commentary offers examples of current initiatives in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania to develop and disseminate such decision tools.

“Following the Hobby Lobby decision, many women’s health advocates are focusing – very appropriately – on the ACA’s employer requirements,” said Chloe Bird, editor-in-chief of Women’s Health Issues and senior sociologist at RAND.  “At the same time, this Commentary reminds us we must also consider how best to ensure that women whose plans entitle them to first-dollar contraceptive coverage are able to learn about and access the forms of contraception that best suit their needs.”   

Read the Commentary here.

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About Women’s Health Issues:
Women's Health Issues is the official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, and the only journal devoted exclusively to women's health care and policy issues. The journal has a particular focus on women's issues in the context of the U.S. health care delivery system and policymaking processes, although it invites submissions addressing women's health care issues in global context if relevant to North American readers. It is a journal for health professionals, social scientists, policymakers, and others concerned with the complex and diverse facets of health care delivery and policy for women. For more information about the journal, please visit http://www.whijournal.com.

About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, nearly 1,400 students from almost every U.S. state and more than 43 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.

 
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