Published Papers - Abstract 26

Bryson L. The Women’s Health Australia project and policy development. Australian Journal of Primary Health - Interchange, 1998; 4(3): 59-71

The Women's Health Australia (WHA) project plans to follow the health of a national sample of around 42,000 women who, in 1996 were in the age cohorts 18-22, 45-49 and 70-74. The multi-disciplinary research team adopts a social approach to health, focuses on biological, psychological, social and lifestyle factors and their relationship to physical health and emotional wellbeing, and is examining the use of, and satisfaction with, health care services. Base-line survey data highlight diversity and the need for health policy to tailor communications to the different age groups. In terms of general wellbeing and service appropriateness, the young are the most problematic, the mid cohort next, while older women indicate fewest problems. Young women experience the highest levels of stress, often suffer from tiredness and are over-concerned with their weight and shape. They are also most dissatisfied with GP services. Issues of employment and health are also central. In general employment is associated with good health, but strains are evident when there are family commitments. As employment becomes increasingly normalised for women, health policy must be mindful of these effects and the significant difficulties faced by a small group of women whose health precludes employment.