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'WHY' Aims to Improve Everyone's Health Through Research


Health conditions and medications affect women’s bodies differently than men’s, so it’s important that we understand the specifics of women’s health.   The University of Kentucky has long been aware of this difference and they’re also recognizing the need to better understand health and wellness for all people, including groups like people of color and the LGBTQ community who have been underrepresented in research--not just women.  That’s why they’ve re-branded one of their programs to better address it.  The Kentucky Women’s Health Registry and it’s new name Wellness Health and You or WHY; it’s the topic of this week’s edition of Dr. Greg Davis on Medicine.

Dr. Greg recently sat down with Doctors Ann Coker and Heather Bush about WHY.  The first voice you’ll hear in this interview is Dr. Coker.

Wellness, Health & You:

Check in with Your Own Health While Helping Others

by Ann Coker, PhD, MPH

Professor, UK College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and UK College of Public Health Department of Epidemiology

It can be easy to lose track of our own health and forget our check-ups and preventive care from year to year. The Wellness, Health & You (WHY) project is an opportunity for you to complete a yearly survey about your health and access to care while also contributing to the advancement health care and medical knowledge.

Created at the University of Kentucky, WHY aims to foster more inclusivity in research so that we can better understand how health varies across the lifespan and in different communities. For example, a single disease can affect different types of people differently, and many medications affect men and women differently. WHY creates an opportunity for all types of people, including you, to contribute to a more complete understanding of how health is affected by life experiences.

A particular goal of WHY is to engage with communities historically underrepresented in health research, such as people living in rural areas, racial and ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ community. WHY helps to meet the needs of both minority communities and researchers seeking to address health issues in these communities.

Members of WHY complete a yearly survey of self-reported symptoms, health behaviors, prevention practices, and access to care. Following this baseline survey, members are offered additional surveys depending on their answers to the initial survey. For example,  there are modules for people of color, the LGBTQ community, and for specific diseases, and more modules are always being added. WHY then partners with scientists and investigators to ensure our member's confidential, secure, and de-identified data can be used to understand all aspects of health.

WHY members are also notified of opportunities to participate in other research that might be of interest to them. ​ Aime Kunes, a WHY participant, joined a research study she learned about through WHY’s outreach to the LGBTQ community. During the routine exam for the study, it was discovered that she had early stage thyroid cancer, and she was able to be treated immediately. “Thanks to my involve in WHY, I was blessed to participate in that study and receive early detection of my cancer.” – Aime Kunes, WHY Participant]

Building a better understanding of health requires a diverse range of experiences and voices, which is why YOU are invited to join WHY. Go to WellnessHealthandYou.org and click “Take Action” to become a member and help us improve health for everyone.

Contact: Ann Coker, ann.coker@uky.edu

Dr. Greg Davis is a forensic pathologist with UK HealthCare. Every week, Davis speaks with local health providers, professionals, and researchers on Dr. Greg Davis on Medicine.
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