About PATH for women


Initiated in 2004, PATH for women provides accurate, high-quality data and analysis to inform women’s health policy. With the nation lagging far behind critical benchmarks (standards) in health, the need for effective policies and programs is increasing. Our goal is to provide information that empowers policymakers and the public to take actions that advance the health of all women.

We seek to serve as a leading independent women’s health policy group for Oregon and the country as a whole. Our work is founded on the belief that Oregon – with its openness to innovation and strong interest in health and well-being – is an ideal setting for developing models for women’s health that lead the country.


Housed within OHSU, PATH for women is at an important crossroads. In our work, we recognize and consider many aspects affecting women’s health, including public health, social systems, policy, education and clinical services.

Track performance on women’s health

For a long time, we have participated in the women’s health Report Card initiative, which  measures and reviews the country’s performance on key indicators. Our work features an in-depth look at how different groups of women are not always treated equally.

Highlight women’s health issues with policy implications

These areas make up current, high-impact issues on women’s health within clinical care, screening, and prevention or behavioral health.

Assess and formulate solutions

We apply a multidisciplinary approach to women’s health issues that is based on research. This involves gathering evidence, analyzing data and coming up with ideas we can act on.. We draw on our wide range of community connections to help develop workable solutions.

Translate research findings for policy, media and the public

We bridge the research-to-action gap by presenting complicated, technical information in clear language and user-friendly formats. Our suggestions are concrete and practical.



Incomplete nature of current policy

Health policy for women has focused on only a few indicators of health. It has not kept up with research showing that women differ from men in many ways. Ways that women differ include types of presenting symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis of disease, response to treatment and response to behavior change programs.

Under-performance in women’s health 

Based on U.S. government benchmarks (standards), most states are failing to meet the health needs of American women. In the most recent Report Card study, the nation received a grade of “satisfactory” on just three of 27 benchmarks. Further, many individual states are losing ground in women’s health. In 2007, for instance, 12 states received overall failing grades because of weak performance, up from seven in 2004.

Persistent and large inequalities in health status and access to care

Differences due to factors such as gender, age, race, ethnicity, income and education continue to be large. The strong relationship between low-income women having increased barriers in accessing care is a big challenge in women’s health. As a nation, we need to close these gaps and ensure all women enjoy the best health possible.

Lack of access to appropriate care

has a negative impact on the quality of life and ability to work for thousands of women. Types of care these women cannot access include prenatal care, and adequate care for chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure. These are real issues for our regional and national health services as well as economic health.


While Oregon’s overall ranking is 14th in the most recent Report Card study, the state falls short on some key indicators of women’s health. Oregon is among the worst performing states for its lung cancer death rate (45th) and stroke death rate (46th).  Oregon also seriously under-reports the country for its high level of uninsured women and inequality in access to insurance by different race and ethnic groups.


The Center for Women’s Health promotes interdisciplinary research in public health, policy analysis, education and clinical care models for diseases unique to women, more common in women, or with presentations or treatments that differ in women. In 2003, the Center was designated as a U.S. Department of Health Services’ National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, recognizing its leadership in women’s health. The Center’s rich mix of research, education and clinical care provides a unique opportunity to address key questions in women’s health across all aspects of health care and health care policy.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Performing clinical research that provides the foundation for policy development.
  • Analyzing data for use in public health planning and clinical care.
  • Researching unfair health inequalities among differing groups of women.
  • Looking at ethical aspects of providing care to women.
  • Developing and testing different approaches to providing care.
  • Integrating key aspects of women’s health in medical training.
  • Translating research results for involved parties ranging from community members to providers and legislators.

OHSU and the Center for Women’s Health have a strong history of engaging with communities throughout Oregon. These links extend to PATH for women and its work. Our state has both rural and urban populations tightly linked to OHSU programs. In evaluating strategies for improving women’s health, PATH for women can draw on OHSU’s long-standing shared relationships with community leaders, state health departments, community hospitals and health systems, regional universities and different graduate education programs. The Center for Women’s Health has worked effectively with state entities, including the Oregon Department of Human Services’ Health Services, to measure women’s health efforts in governmental and private settings.

For more information, download a fact sheet on PATH for women