Development of a new National Women’s Health Policy Consultation Discussion Paper 2009

6.4 A strong and emerging evidence base

Page last updated: 20 April 2009

As the population ages, the growing burden of disease will impact increasingly on health resources. An evidence based approach to improving women's health is important in order to maximise the effectiveness of policies and programs and to facilitate the allocation of resources to cost-effective interventions.
There is a need for comprehensive gender-relevant evidence. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, a 20 year study that commenced in 1995, has provided valuable information on the social, behavioural and economic determinants of women's health and their relationship to health outcomes and use of health services at key points in women's lives.
However, more gender focussed research is required and the National Women's Health Policy could identify priorities for future research. For example, engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors involves a complex interaction of environment, social, cultural and psychological factors. A better understanding is needed of why women take up unhealthy lifestyles, the barriers to change for women and how the barriers can be modified in relation to women. Data collection methods and gender sensitive performance indicators should be developed and improved to enable the collection of comprehensive sex disaggregated data in the health system, to facilitate gender analysis, monitoring and evaluation from a gender perspective.
For the same reason, there is an important need to develop and improve sex disaggregated information in relation to policies and programs which are addressing health inequities between different groups of Australians and the Government's wider social inclusion agenda. Effective communication to health professionals and the community across a wide range of women's health issues is also essential.