Recruitment for the Women's Health Initiative, the largest study ever on issues pertaining to women's health, will close on time at the end of the month, according to government health officials.
The study, which began recruiting women in 1994, has enrolled more than 130,000 post-menopausal women nationwide and will meet its recruitment goals, says Dr. Jacques Rossouw, project officer for the National Institutes of Health.
The on-schedule close is a significant achievement because recruitment of such a large number of women, representing several ethnic groups, was expected to be difficult. Lower-than-anticipated enrollment levels had many researchers concerned only a year ago. Many of the study sites were charged with enrolling 10% to 60% of their participants from minority groups.
Attaining the desired number of participants, however, will enable researchers to address many of their research questions. For example, scientists hope to resolve the question of whether hormone replacement therapy helps prevent heart disease and whether HRT increases the risk of breast cancer. Researchers will also examine whether low-fat diets help prevent some diseases and whether calcium and vitamin D supplements prevent osteoporosis.