As many of you know, Dr. Leslie Crofford, founder of the Kentucky Women’s Health Registry, returned to her alma mater and took a faculty position at Vanderbilt University. Dr Crofford asked that Drs. Heather Bush and Ann Coker continue in leadership roles with this important initiative to further research to advance women’s health. We were happy to work together to continue support women’s health research for women across Kentucky. Mary Johnson continued her role in the KWHR and helped with this transition. Her tireless efforts in recruitment and operations helped to make the KWHR a success…with more than 18,000 participants! Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, the KWHR could not continue her position, so she moved full-time to help recruit and coordinate a study in the Department of Psychology (many of you may have been involved in – DAHLiA). We are so very grateful to the considerable effort, love, and leadership that Dr. Crofford and Mary Johnson provided to the KWHR.
As many of you are aware, budgets continue to be an issue and we are trying to minimize costs in every area. Since the start of the KWHR, it has been a predominantly electronic database, with most participants completing surveys electronically. To keep expenses at a minimum, the KWHR: Bringing Life into Health will be exclusively electronic (completed online). In an effort to be responsive to your comments and this exclusively online-format, we have re-designed the survey, shortened questions, and made it easier to complete on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. All new recruitment will be by either smartphone or by Internet using your email address. If you do not have an email we can help you create one.
We will continue to utilize emerging technology to improve your experience with the KWHR: Bringing Life into Health. This includes a new module format to reduce your burden. We are now including modules that interested faculty have developed (and are developing). In the module format, you can decide which modules you are interested in and wish to complete. In this version, we have modules for preventative health (including cancer screening, doctor visits, etc.), life stresses, family history of chronic diseases. We will continue to develop modules that will appear in the KWHR: Bringing Life into Health and will be seeking your input on ideas, too.
Another shift for KWHR is an expanded focus on women’s lives and how our experiences influence our health. KWHR began over 10 years ago as a healthcare sample of women interested in changing the imbalance of women’s participation in clinical research. Our focus was primarily to increase women’s opportunity to be included in medical research. Now, women participate in medical research more often than men. Changes in electronic access to medical records, health insurance claims data, and other health registries can provide much of the information we have previously collected in KWHR. What is missing from KWHR and other large studies is what happens in the rest of women’s lives. With this relaunch we have a new focus: Bringing Life into Health.
The elements of women’s lives that have not been measured in KWHR or other studies include social, emotional and financial support, measures of generosity, religiosity and spirituality, happiness, forgiveness of self and others, creativity. The latter constructs have been linked to longevity but have not been investigated prospectively as preventive factors for mental and physical health risk. With this new focus, we can use the KWHR to provide new positive or preventive strategies to increase mental and/or physical health for women, our families, our social networks, and our communities. Thanks for your continuing support in the KWHR and welcome to the next 10 years.