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Center for Research on Women with Disabilities

CROWDThe Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD) was established in 1993 in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine. Its formation was inspired by the outpouring of support from women with disabilities around the nation in response to the announcement of the first federally funded study of women’s issues. Funded in 1992 by the National Institutes of Health, the National Study of Women with Physical Disabilities examined sexuality and associated concerns in this population. After completion of qualitative interviews of 31 women and a survey of nearly 1,000 women – about half with disabilities and half without – data analysis revealed major new findings in five areas: dissatisfaction with sexual activities, difficulties in establishing intimate relationships, low self-esteem, very high rates of emotional, physical, sexual and disability related abuse, and pervasive problems with obtaining appropriate reproductive health care.

Since its inception, CROWD has conducted research studies on health promotion and wellness, abuse, reproductive health, sexuality, independent living and access to health care for women with disabilities. The Center’s researchers have developed and tested cognitive-behavioral interventions to help women with physical disabilities improve their health and functioning in daily life – interventions focused on general health promotion, self-esteem enhancement, stress reduction, depression and aging-related health issues for women with disabilities. More than 2,500 women have participated in CROWD studies to date.

Funding for these studies has come from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Houston Endowment and the Paralyzed Veterans of America Education and Training Foundation. Over the past 22 years, investigators at CROWD have successfully completed externally funded grants totaling more than $15 million. For more information, visit https://www.bcm.edu/research/centers/research-on-women-with-disabilities

Research Highlights

Development of a Virtual Reality Weight Management Intervention for Women with Mobility Impairments

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Margaret A. Nosek, Ph.D.
PROJECT DIRECTOR, CO-INVESTIGATOR: Susan Robinson-Whelen, Ph.D.

Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) from 2012 to 2015, this project develops and pilot tests the first evidence-based weight management program designed to meet the unique needs of women with mobility impairments. The goal is to use a community-based participatory and multidisciplinary approach to develop and pilot test a weight management intervention delivered using virtual reality on the Internet.

Pelvic Health Initiative for Women with Disabilities: An Interactive Information Online Resource

PROJECT DIRECTOR: Margaret A. Nosek, Ph.D.

Funded by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation from 2014 to 2050, this project will create an interactive Web page with practical information about preventive health and access to care for the pelvic organs, offer four webinars on this topic, and maintain a blog with contributions by consumers and medical professionals with advice and comments about pelvic health for women with spinal cord dysfunction. These resources will undergo continuous development in response to questions posed by women with disabilities nationwide.