Thursday, July 05, 2007

New Canadian health website: What Older Women Want

A Canadian study of older women's health needs and concerns published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in July 2005, and reported widely in the media, has sparked a new website directed at both patients and health practitioners:

Known widely as 'WOW' or the 'What Older Women Want' study, conducted by Drs. Cara Tannenbaum, Nancy Mayo and Francine Ducharme, the study asked 5000 older women across Canada which of their health needs they felt were not being met or addressed adequately by their health practitioners.

Among the top unmet concerns Canadian senior women mentioned were: screening and treating urinary incontinence; counselling about memory loss (or perceived memory loss); and exercise strategies to address falls and functional decline.

"Women were very satisfied with the care they were receiving to treat their blood pressure and prevent heart attacks and stroke, but emphasized gaps in care surrounding more 'taboo' issues, such as discussing urine or memory loss," says Dr. Tannenbaum, a Geriatrician at the Institut universitaire de gériatre de Montréal, and lead author of the WOW study. "It may be that women are uncomfortable talking about these issues with their physicians because it is embasrassing, because they believe it is a part of normal aging or because they are unaware that treatments exist."

In order to address this gap in primary health provision and give older women what they want, Dr. Tannenbaum teamed up with the Canadian Women's Health Network and the Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal to create the WOW website:

The website contains a portal for health consumers that provides health information on the three unmet health needs of older Canadian women: urinary incontinence, memory loss and exercise. The information is clear, straight-forward and easy-to-read, with engaging illustrations and diagrams. The focus is on prevention, with tips on diet, lifestyle changes and exercise; treatment options are also provided.

The WOW website also has a portal for health practitioners, outlining the kinds of questions that practitioners should be asking their older female patients routinely, and the ways in which they can provide prevention and improvement strategies to their patients for urinary incontinence, memory loss, as well as the particular exercise needs of older women.

For full study details on the What Older Women Want study, visit: