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Representatives from the various mental health disciplines met October 16–17, 1986, to develop a women's mental health research agenda for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). It was to include (a) priority research areas for women's mental health, (b) guidelines to reduce gender bias in all NIMH-supported research and (c) a process for implementing the proposed research agenda.

The final research agenda emphasized understanding the experience of older women and the effects of poverty, violence and abuse, and multiple roles in mental health. Study of gender-based biologic and pharmacologic differences was also urged, including diagnosis and treatment issues. It was recommended that NIMH adopt guidelines to avoid gender bias in research, require proposals to address efforts to avoid gender bias, provide technical assistance to those interested in women's mental health, make research training available to women, involve women scientists on peer review groups, convene a state-of-the-science conference to analyze appropriate methods and models for research in this area, establish an oversight committee and require periodic updates on women's mental health research from each NIMH division.

The following paper, one of five position papers generated, helped to shape the final recommendations. In the interest of showing the various ways in which public policy is affected by nurses, IMAGE is pleased to publish this work by permission. The conference summary is available from Anita Eichler, Special Assistant to the Associate Director for Special Populations, NIMH, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857.