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Help With Women's Health Research
Equality of the sexes has come a long way, but one area in particular that still needs attention is women’s health issues. Frankly, our parts are different, and since research has overwhelmingly been conducted on men’s physiology the results often don’t translate.
Chicago’s Northwestern University is trying to address that discrepency with the Illinois Women’s Health Registry. This is a self-reported health questionnaire that’s updated by the questionee every year for ten years. The aim is two-fold: to learn how and why illnesses develop, and to find women to participate in research studies and trials.
Everything’s voluntary, it’s all private, and you can opt out at any time. If you qualify for a research study you’ll be notified before the researcher can get in touch with you. It’s important to note that you’re given the right of refusal; if you don’t say no, they’ll be given your contact information.
You can take it online or answer it in print. I answered the questions online and it does take the suggested 20-30 minutes. For the most part they’re pretty basic questions about both your and your familial health, number of pregnancies, your menstrual cycle, and how often you visit a doctor. But it also asks lifestyle questions, like whether you’ve ever been arrested, whether you rent or own, and whether you live in a house or an apartment.
That last one could have used another option, especially for residents in Chicago. That’s nitpicking, but one question that bothered me was about ethnicity. There was no option for Arab, so I asked one of my best friends who’s Arab and she told me that’s common, and she’s expected to check “white” or “other”.
Despite that minor criticism, I strongly urge all women to participate. It’s a quick half hour of your life that will potentially help researchers improve and save lives of all women.