WHISPERS is the Women's Health Interview Survey Project for Education, Research, and Services. We are a group of researchers concerned about the health and mental health of women in this country, especially women of color, poor women, lesbians and bisexual women. We each have worked in the area of women's health conducting research, providing health or mental health services, developing health care policy, or serving as advocates for better health service. We have included information about our team and a list of publications from our earlier work. 

          Currently we are asking you to participate in an important study of women's health and health care experiences. Women's health has become an issue that is getting more and more attention in recent years. However, many of us in the are of women's health are concerned about the lack of attention to the health needs of lesbian and bisexual women. On any number of health issues, lesbian and bisexual women tend to have greater rates of disease, less access to primary and preventive health care services and get the worst care and treatment. As researchers who have worked in the field of lesbian and gay health for many years, and in our meetings with many lesbian and bisexual women in the community, we found that many women share our concerns about the lack of scientific information available to lesbian and bisexual women and their health care providers. We have always tried to remedy this. In 1985 we conducted the first national survey of African American lesbians and reached over 600 women to learn more about their relationships and mental health concerns. To this day, sad to say, our previous study remains the largest study of African American lesbians. We have met with community groups, published papers and testified at state and federal hearings about the needs of lesbian and bisexual women. But the fact is that, to date, there have been fewer than 75 scientific studies focused solely on lesbians, with little said about women of color or lesbian and bisexual women over 40. We hope to change that by identifying what the diverse community of lesbian and bisexual women consider priorities in their health care.

          A survey has been developed by Dr. Susan Cochran, UCLA School of Public Health, Center for Health Sciences and Dr. Vickie Mays, a Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Psychology at UCLA in collaboration with other colleagues at UCLA. What we want is to know about your health care needs, how you've been treated, your experiences with health care providers and the health care system. One of our goals is to meet with the major health providers in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area and give them feedback on the changes necessary to enhance and maintain a healthy community. 

          Our goal is to reach lesbian and bisexual women of all ages who live in Los Angeles County or the Bay Area. We would especially like to hear from lesbian and bisexual women of color and young women ages 18-24 as their voices are often unheard. We also want to make sure that lesbian and bisexual women over 65 participate because they rely more frequently on the health care system. So while we want to hear from all of you, we ask that you help us to make the extra effort to reach those who may not be out or as visible. Help us by committing yourself and at least 3 other people you know to completing the survey.

          The survey is anonymous, and will arrive in an envelope with no identifying information about its content or the project. Once we've sent you the survey, we won't contact you anymore unless you specifically request further correspondence. We promise that you will not be put on any lists or have your information sold to other parties. As researchers we are required to protect your information. 

          Since much of the study is based on volunteer efforts and we have limited funds, we ask that if you request a survey that you fill it out. Each survey, with its mailing, printing, and return postage costs us about $7.00. So, if for whatever reason you don't want to fill out the survey once you receive it, please either pass it on so someone else can fill it out or send it back to us.

          If you are committed to completing the survey and would like us to send one to you, you can: click here to request a survey online right now, e-mail your request to whispers@ucla.edu or call (310) 206-5160. Please be sure to provide us with you name, address, city, and zip code. We realize that comfort levels with providing personal information may vary, so we simply ask that you provide enough information to ensure the successful delivery of the survey. You may use a nickname and we can mail to a P.O. Box. Also feel free to contact us if you have ideas or can volunteer to help us reach other lesbian and bisexual women in your area.

          Your participation will be a benefit to the health of all lesbian and bisexual women. The anonymous information you provide will help us to document, in particular, the health care needs and experiences of lesbian and bisexual women in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

          Thank you for your help, your voice is important!

 

 

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 Copyright 2001-2004 Vickie M. Mays, PhD