Women's Health

“Shining a light on sex-based differences can result in better health and health care for everybody. We continually ask: ‘How do health care and policy need to be designed to meet men and women’s unique differences?’”

Katherine M. Newton, PhD
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator (Emeritus)

Research overview

Women are most of the world’s population, but for many years, much health research has focused on men. Women face unique health choices about birth control and pregnancy, cancer screening, preventing osteoporosis, and treating menopause symptoms. Studies by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) investigators are helping women make the best decisions for a long and healthy life.

“We’re studying all the major health experiences and conditions of women’s lives,” said Katherine M. Newton, PhD, KPWHRI senior investigator (emeritus). In addition to studying “equal-opportunity” conditions such as heart disease, which are common in men and women, Kaiser Permanente Washington investigators study women’s health issues such as:

  • Breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment;
  • Osteoporosis and bone health;
  • Contraception and pregnancy;
  • Reproductive health, including sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Urinary tract infections; and
  • Menopause symptoms and treatments.

Results from KPWHRI studies improve care locally and globally. Work by Delia Scholes, PhD, senior investigator, has contributed to broadly adopted public health policies such as Chlamydia screening to reduce pelvic inflammatory disease and contraceptive guidelines from the World Health Organization. “It’s been wonderful to find that what we are learning at Kaiser Permanente Washington can be part of improved health care for women everywhere,” Dr. Scholes said.

Since 2007, KPWHRI has hosted postdoctoral researchers in women’s health through a T32 Training Award called “Health Care Improvement for Aging Women” from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Andrea LaCroix, PhD, senior investigator, is the principal investigator and program director. Drs. Newton and Scholes are co-directors.

Recent publications on Women's Health

Arasu VA, Miglioretti DL, Sprague BL, Alsheik NH, Buist DSM, Henderson LM, Herschorn SD, Lee JM, Onega T, Rauscher GH, Wernli KJ, Lehman CD, Kerlikowske K. Population-based assessment of the association between magnetic resonance imaging background parenchymal enhancement and future primary breast cancer risk. J Clin Oncol. 2019 Apr 20;37(12):954-963. doi: 10.1200/JCO.18.00378. Epub 2019 Jan 9. PubMed

Figueroa Gray M, Hsu C, Kiel L, Dublin S. Getting through the day: a pilot qualitative study of U.S. women's experiences making decisions about anti-nausea medication during pregnancy. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2018;18(1):475. doi: 10.1186/s12884-018-2093-6. PubMed

Chen L, Pocobelli G, Yu O, Shortreed SM, Osmundson SS, Fuller S, Wartko PD, McCulloch D, Warwick S, Newton KM, Dublin S. Early pregnancy hemoglobin A1C and pregnancy outcomes: a population-based study. Am J Perinatol. 2018 Nov 30. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1675619. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Tiro JA, Betts AC, Kimbel K, Buist DSM, Mao C, Gao H, Shulman L, Malone C, Beatty T, Lin J, Thayer C, Miglioretti DL, Winer RL. Understanding patients' perspectives and information needs following a positive home human papillomavirus self-sampling kit result. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2018 Nov 27. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2018.7070. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Yu O, Scholes D, Schulze-Rath R, Grafton J, Hansen K, Reed SD. A US population-based study of uterine fibroid diagnosis incidence, trends, and prevalence: 2005-2014. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Oct 3. pii: S0002-9378(18)30831-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2018.09.039. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Researchers in Women's Health

Katherine M. Newton, PhD

Senior Investigator (Emeritus)
206-287-2973
Katherine.M.Newton@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Diana S. Buist, PhD, MPH

Director of Research and Strategic Partnerships; Senior Investigator
206-287-2931
Diana.S.Buist@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Dean’s Professor of Biostatistics, University of California, Davis
206-287-4266
dmiglioretti@ucdavis.edu

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen J. Sherman, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2426
Karen.J.Sherman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2870
Sascha.Dublin@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen Wernli, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2934
Karen.J.Wernli@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Erin J. Bowles, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2708
Erin.A.Bowles@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Laura E. Ichikawa, MPH

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2395
Laura.E.Ichikawa@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer F. Bobb, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2190
Jennifer.F.Bobb@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Gaia Pocobelli, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2914
Gaia.S.Pocobelli@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Laura Harrington, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2066
Laura.B.Harrington@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paige D. Wartko, Phd, MPH

Research Associate
206-442-5230
Paige.D.Wartko@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Professor and Chief of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego
858-822-1073
alacroix@ucsd.edu

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers

Amy Bonomi, PhD, MPH
The Ohio State University Department of Human Development and Family Science

Linda LeResche, ScD
University of Washington (UW) Department of Oral Medicine

Susan D. Reed, MD, MPH
Harborview Medical Center; UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Rachel Winer, PhD, MPH
Fred Hutchinson/UW Cancer Consortium; UW Department of Epidemiology