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Many Women Unfamiliar with 'Women's Health' Findings

Two years after the landmark Women's Health Initiative study, survey finds many unaware of hormone therapy's effects

MONDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the widespread publicity of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trial published in 2002 -- which found that the risk-benefit ratio of estrogen plus progestin made it an unwise choice for preventing disease -- only a minority of women were aware of these results two years later, researchers report in the September/October issue of Menopause.

Alison J. Rigby, Ph.D., of Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and a colleague analyzed data from a nationally representative survey of 781 women aged 40 to 60. Women were asked whether they had heard of or read about WHI, and what impact hormone therapy has on the risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke and breast cancer.

Only 29 percent of the women were aware of the Women's Health Initiative results. In addition, only 40 percent showed a positive aggregate knowledge score regarding hormone therapy's impact on disease. Black women were less likely to have a positive score than white women, and women with a high school education were less likely to have a positive score than women with a college degree.

"The results of this study have important public health implications and suggest the need for new strategies for the successful transmission of medical information to the general public," the authors conclude.

The study was supported by a research grant from GlaxoSmithKline.

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