Performance Improvement 2005. Evaluation of Orwh’s First Ten Years


The Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), the focal point for women’s health research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), played a major role in achieving a culture change at NIH. This is the conclusion of a comprehensive evaluation of ORWH’s first ten years (FY 1991–2000). During this period there was an increased awareness of women’s health across NIH, resulting in substantially more funding for research on diseases, disorders, and conditions that affect women. Altogether, ORWH actively participated in over 1,700 program activities during its first decade. Achievements included the following: (1) A dramatic increase in NIH announcements to stimulate and expand research on women’s health. RFAs and PAs encouraging researchers to address women’s health issues increased by 143% during the1990’s. (2) Substantially more NIH grant applications and awards involving women’s health research. Grant applications involving women’s health increased by 48% and grant awards in the highest priority areas increased by 70%. (3) More women applying for and receiving NIH research grants. Grant applications submitted by female principal investigators (PIs) increased by 56%, and grants awarded to women increased by 84%. However, despite these gains only 25% of applications were being submitted by female PIs and they were receiving only 23% of grant awards at the end of the decade. (4) Increased institutional commitment to women’s health research. The number of academic institutions with major NIH research and training centers involving women’s health increased by 87%. (5) Strong evidence that women and minorities are being appropriately included as subjects in clinical research supported by NIH. By FY 2000, nearly all grant applicants (94%) were complying with NIH’s inclusion policy. In summary, the evaluation advisory committee concluded that ORWH’s strong emphasis on collaboration and strategic planning, along with its steady focus on a broad-based NIH research agenda for women’s health and effective leveraging of funds, were major factors in its success. Acknowledging there was more work to be done, there was consensus that ORWH’s approach could well serve as a model for other interdisciplinary programs pursuing trans-NIH goals.

PIC ID: 7904; Agency Sponsor: NIH-OD, Office of the Director; Federal Contact: Rudick, Joyce, 301-402-1770; Performer: Carlyn Consulting, Poolesville, MD

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