Women's Health: The Evolving Science

ADEA Symposium, March 2012

During the 2012 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition, the ADEA Women's Affairs Advisory Committee sponsored this working group symposium, which brought together leaders in dental education and research. Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., Acting Director, ORWH, NIH introduced the program. The 2012 ADEA Survey on Women's Health in Dental School Curriculum: An Update was also presented.

Following the presentations, group discussions covered the science of women’s health across the lifespan, women’s health promotion and strategies for implementation. The working groups were led by Sharon C. Siegel, D.D.S., M.S., Chair, Department of Prosthodontics, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine; Karen P. West, D.M.D., M.P.H., Dean, University of Nevada; and Pamela Zarkowski, J.D., M.P.H., Vice President of Academic Affairs, University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. Joseph F. West, M.Sc., Sc.D., Senior Epidemiologist/Program Director, Sinai Urban Health Institute, served as facilitator. The working group recommended that the conversation about women’s health issues across the lifespan be extended across disciplines.

Learning Objectives:

  • Strategies that will promote and build interest in women’s health across a lifespan.
  • Resources and policies that contribute to the science base for women’s health research.
  • How IPE initiatives may be used to advance women’s health curriculum changes.


  • Curriculum Challenges Implications for IPE
    Paula K. Friedman, D.D.S., M.S.D., M.P.H.
    Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine

  • A New Research Paradigm for Women’s Health Research
    Connie L. Drisko, D.D.S.
    Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine

  • Integrative Medicine and Women’s Health
    Henri Roca, M.D.
    Greenwich Hospital

Summary of Working Group Discussions:

What can be done in dental education and practice to promote the science of women's health across the lifespan?

One of the first recommendations from the group was for ADEA to host more forums and to communicate through schools, student groups and associations to build interest in women's health issues. Such forums could make issues relevant across disciplines and lead to work with curriculum developers to cover specific areas of women's health. Webinars could serve as instruction tools on women's health and highlight best practices. ADEA should establish collaborations for building content and presentations for webinars.

  • Questions related to women's health should be on the National Board exams.
  • Host webinars on women's health across the lifespan with the proper depth and information integrated into courses.
  • Dental clinics need to have information and resources for patients on topics related to women's health.
  • Focus on specific topics in women's health and build cases studies to include in curriculum in specific courses. Encourage research and clinical practice skill building related to specific areas.

What can ADEA do to improve the women's health competency of dental faculty?

To improve the women’s health competency among dental faculty, ADEA should encourage women's health competency in dental schools, in all specialties. There should be a more concerted push for dental schools to “buy” into women's health competency and integrate into curriculum. At ADEA meetings (e.g., ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition), there should be educational forums and presentations specifically focused on women’s health with materials, including website links for downloading resources. Third-party payer issues need to be resolved (e.g., pay for nutrition) related to covering prevention, counseling and intervention for women.

  • Develop a consortium on women's health to collaborate across academic institutions, including medicine and public health schools. The consortium should develop a central website or accessible database of teaching, best practices and research-related resources on women's health across the lifespan.
  • Focus on cultural and gender competency knowledge and communication in dental schools and dental practice.

Encourage dental faculty to engage community clinics where other practitioners are centered on women’s health.

What strategies should be used to communicate women's health to practitioners?

ADEA can play a key role by disseminating information on women’s health to dental schools with specific examples and recommendations for curriculum inclusion. ADEA can also encourage all faculty and schools to host teaching forums and instructional seminars on women’s health (e.g., on weekends, during the summer). ADEA can make women’s health a part of the ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition agenda (i.e., call for abstracts and presentations on women’s health topics).

  • Continuing education credits on women’s health and interdisciplinary practice.
  • Distribute (emails, on website) monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly newsletter highlighting research, commentary, narrative, curriculum ideas or faculty working on women’s health in dentistry or applicable work from other disciplines.
  • Organize a 1-2 day series/session of presentations, curriculum development workshops and forums on women’s health.
  • Use social media (e.g., Facebook, You Tube) to communicate to practitioners, researchers, faculty and students.

What strategies are recommended for the advancement of women in research careers?

NIH and other major funders can continue to encourage young women to become investigators, and eventually principal investigators, through training and other grants. ADEA can help facilitate an exchange of information between women investigators and researchers to encourage collaboration and co-authorship. ADEA can help women faculty learn to better manage competing responsibilities and interests (e.g., family, practice, research, faculty mentoring). ADEA can continue to push for incentives to initiate and build research careers (e.g., tuition forgiveness, stipends, conference attendance and presentation support).

  • Make mentoring connections between students, young investigators and senior researchers to encourage and develop research teams.
  • Begin early with educating young women in high school and undergraduate on dentistry and the role they can play in improving women’s health.
  • Organize research training sessions for students and young investigators at ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition or other ADEA meetings.

Dental schools can encourage and/or facilitate faculty and students to research and become engaged in solutions pertaining to local women’s health issues and clinical needs.

The science of women's health is interdisciplinary. How can IPE initiatives advance curriculum change with regard to women's health?

ADEA can help facilitate the development of a repository of information on research, teaching techniques and practice related to women’s health. An ADEA Special Interest Group on IPE that invites researchers and practitioners to come together to discuss women’s health across the lifespan could spur recommendations on curriculum change. The interest group would help develop a framework for IPE and core competencies in practice, research and education for addressing women’s health. Such a group would help develop models that could be integrated into the curriculum or learning environment (e.g., workshops, forums and webinars); ADEA could disseminate the models to schools. Specific IPE benchmarks and outcomes related to women’s health across the lifespan should be established.

What clinical disciplines are most likely to contribute to curriculum changes regarding women's health across lifespans?

The group recommended that the conversation about women’s health issues across the lifespan be extended across disciplines. For example, a symposium or collaborative of professionals from dental hygiene, pharmacy, osteopathic medicine, complementary and alternative medicine and public health can outline an IPE framework. ADEA should continue to seek revisions to CODA to increase interest in addressing women’s health in academia. Dental schools should look for creative ways to increase service learning experiences community-based experiences, bringing attention to women’s health issues. Work across disciplines to strengthen funding streams to enhance programs and research.