|Rehabilitation and Women's Health: Major Insights on a Major Health Issue |
Infectious Diseases - Sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea have risen in the past 25 years in women of all ethnic backgrounds. The increased risk of acquiring HIV from heterosexual contact is up in women in alarming rates. Many women who may be at increased risk (due to ethnic background, economic status, etc.) may not even be aware of their risks. Again, health education is important as an intervention strategy to disseminate information in schools, health clinics, and in private practices to alert women to risks with infectious diseases.
Menopause - The issue of medical intervention in menopause is still controversial, because many treatments themselves may have adverse effects on health (such as estrogen therapy and the increased risk of cancer, and oophorectomy and the increased risk of heart disease). For over five years it has been stated that a diet low in fat and high in vitamin supplements, and regular exercise may actually lower (or eliminate) estrogen therapy in many women.
Mental Health - From anorexia to bulemia, to stress, to depression, mental health disorders affect millions of women each year, and lead to decreased productivity in the work place, problems at home and with children, and account for many suicides each year. In 1988, suicide was the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. Although many do not associate these types of conditions as so serious that they cause death, but their seriousness cannot be overstated. The ability to treat these conditions will improve the health of almost 10% of high school students with eating disorders, 8% of women who suffer from depression, and almost 1 out of 3 women in this country who suffer from stress great enough to cause physical or emotional problems in their lives.
Addictive Behaviors - Smoking has been on the rise with teenage women for over a decade. Alcohol use is also more prevalent in certain age and socioeconomic groups. As stated by former surgeon general C. Everett Koop, MD; "If we as a nation are to affect the overall health of the general public, we must first strive to reduce the incidence of smoking and drinking in all segments of our society". Addictive behaviors also includes drug abuse (cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, etc.). For some women, addictive behaviors sets in motion their reliance of the medical system to deal with their problems (low birth weight babies, overdoses on drugs, etc.). The obvious but hard to achieve self reliance and empowerment is the goal of mental health workers who deal with these conditions.
Violence - The murder of Nicole Brown Simpson has raised the national consciousness about domestic violence. The issue of abuse, rape, incest, and other violent acts against women are major parts of a total women's health package, and should be understood by all allied health care workers. By understanding the elements of abuse, appropriate referrals may take place, and a complete recovery may be set in motion.
Health Promotion - All of the above conditions could be improved by the implementation of health promotion strategies into treatment. Improper diet has been associated with everything from poor school performance to violent crime. Regular exercise not only improves physiological parameters, but also has profound effects on psychological aspects of health (such as depression). Many medical treatments involve drugs, which themselves have side-effects. True health promotion may have positive influences upon patient care, and health care costs, which leads us to our next section.
About The Author
Eric Durak received his Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1986. His research experience is in the application of exercise for special population groups, such as diabetes, high risk pregnancy, cancer, and metabolic disorders. He has published scientific articles in journals such as: The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Diabetes Care, The......more