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Indiana State Department of Health

Office of Women's Health Office of Women's Health

Welcome to the Indiana State Department of Health’s Office of Women’s Health webpage.  The Office of Women’s Health (OWH) is so pleased that you have chosen to learn about how our state is working to help improve the health of women.  We believe that every woman should have access to free, up-to-date and reliable resources to find out information about her health.  The Office of Women’s Health wants to ensure that each woman and girl in Indiana is aware of her own health status, risks and goals, and can achieve optimal health through access, education and advocacy.  Our website is inclusive of all OWH’s programs, and has a page of resources to help guide you in improving your health.  If you have any questions or need information that is not included on our website, please feel free to call 317-233-9156 or email  Thank you so much for visiting our site, and we wish you good health!

Warmest regards,
Laura Chavez, MPH, CLC
Director, Office of Women’s Health

Updates and Current News

  • Click here to check out the OWH's printable educational materials, free to you!
  • Moms and families can click here to learn basic facts, get resources and find out how the Indiana State Department of Health is supporting breastfeeding and nursing moms.  Resources are also availble for community professionals ready and willing to help make breastfeeding the norm in Indiana.
  • Check out OWH's newly updated Resources page to find local and national resources for common women's health topics!

News to Use

There are many people and organizations in our state working toward improving the health of Hoosier women and families.  Join them for the events listed below!

11/26 - Wheeler Mission Ministries - Drumstick Dash 2015

11/30 - 12/1 - Postpartum Support International - Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders: Components of Care Certificate Training

12/16 - Lupus Foundation of America, Indiana Chapter - Living with Lupus Seminar (Evansville, IN)

Spotlight on Women's Health

The third Thursday in November has been designated to highlight rural communities as wonderful places to live and work, increase awareness of rural health-related issues and promote the efforts of State Offices of Rural Health across the country in addressing these issues.

In Indiana, 27.6 percent of the population (1,786,702 people) lives in a rural area.4 In general, rural communities have significant health disparities, including higher incidence of disease and disability, increased mortality rates and lower life expectancies, than urban communities. Rural residents tend to be older and poorer than urban residents. Eighteen percent of rural residents are over 65 compared to 15 percent of urban residents. More rural residents live below the poverty level compared to urban residents.5 Developing solutions to address the unique healthcare needs of rural Hoosiers is a constantly evolving challenge as rural communities face accessibility issues, a lack of healthcare providers, an aging population suffering from a greater number of chronic conditions and larger percentages of uninsured and underinsured citizens. All of these concerns impact women living in rural Indiana. 

Due to restraints and necessary cutbacks in Indiana’s health care infrastructure, many rural hospitals are closing their obstetrics (OB) departments. Currently, 31 of Indiana’s 92 counties are without obstetrical services, compared to 27 counties in 2009. This equates to one-third of Indiana hospitals. With fewer hospitals delivering babies, women are traveling from 50 to 100 miles to deliver their children in a properly equipped hospital. This reality can become a very real issue when it surfaces in emergency situations.

Another challenge facing rural America is the lack of a healthcare professional workforce.  Although 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas, only 9 percent of the nation’s physicians and only 10 percent of specialists practice in rural areas. In addition, 98 percent of rural counties in Indiana fail to meet the national benchmark for an adequate ratio of primary care specialists per 100,000 residents. Indiana has a shortage of over 1,000 care providers. A striking 87 percent of rural counties fail to meet the U.S. benchmark for an adequate ration of registered nurses (RNs) per 100,000 residents.6 

Females in rural areas are less likely to receive medical services as recommended. The number of rural women aged 40 and older who received the recommended mammogram in the past two years was 66.1 percent compared to 68.6 percent in urban Indiana.7 Prenatal care in rural areas is also a challenge. Only 65.2 percent of rural women received prenatal care in their first trimester.8

Rural women are much more likely to smoke during pregnancy than urban women in Indiana. Although decreasing annually, 22 percent of rural Indiana women smoke while pregnant while 15 percent of urban Indiana women smoke during pregnancy.9

The Indiana State Office of Rural Health (InSORH), within the Division of Chronic Disease, Primary Care and Rural Health at the Indiana State Department of Health continues to support programs that increase and strengthen the rural workforce by working on collaborative projects to leverage resources that will help build community-level networks among Critical Access Hospitals, rural hospitals, federally qualified health centers (FQHC’s), community health centers, rural health clinics, managed care organizations and local health departments.

Movers and Shakers in Women's Health

The Office of Women’s Health recognizes that advancements in women’s health do not happen on their own.  There are many amazing women and men behind the scenes working to improve the health of our Indiana communities through tireless efforts and advocacy for women’s health.  If you know an individual or group whose creativity, innovative work or diligent efforts have made a real difference in your community, and would like this individual or group highlighted in the “Movers and Shakers” section of the OWH webpage, please email Laura Chavez, Director of the Office of Women’s Health, at

Keep up with OWH!

  • Visit the Office of Women’s Health webpage for regular updates on women’s health-related issues and community services and programs that help promote women’s health and wellness across the state.
  • Follow OWH on Twitter @inwomenshealth for daily updates on women’s health facts and resources.
  • Subscribe below to receive the OWH Wellness Watch newsletter, a monthly e-newsletter with information on many women's health issues and upcoming health-related events in Indiana.  Click here to view past newsletters.

Email Updates

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