WISEWOMAN Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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The WISEWOMAN program helps women understand and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.

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What is the WISEWOMAN program?

The WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for WOMen Across the Nation) program helps women understand and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke and provides services to help promote lasting heart-healthy lifestyles. The program served nearly 150,000 women between 2008 and 2013—91% of whom had at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The WISEWOMAN program provides funding to various states and tribal organizations throughout the U.S., and is administered through CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP).

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What services does the WISEWOMAN program fund?

The WISEWOMAN program funds heart disease and stroke risk factor screenings that include blood pressure, diabetes, body mass index (BMI), and cholesterol screenings. Services are provided in local health departments, doctors’ offices, and community health centers.

Participants who are screened and found to have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol receive clinical care. After discussing the woman’s clinical risks, health history, weight, diet, and physical activity, participants are encouraged to set goals and are referred to healthy behavior support options. These options include lifestyle programs, health coaching, risk reduction strategies with community resource support, and educational materials that are provided through individual coaching and community-based organizations such as the YMCA, Weight Watchers, and organizations that provide the National Diabetes Prevention Program. The program also supports smokers in their effort to quit smoking.

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Who benefits from these services?

Low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women aged 40 to 64 years have benefitted from services funded by the WISEWOMAN program. Through the services provided, women can reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke, and as a result, enjoy longer, healthier lives.

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What is the purpose of the WISEWOMAN program?

The purpose of the WISEWOMAN program is to

  • Assure that heart disease and stroke risk factor screenings are provided to women aged 40 to 64 years who participate in the NBCCEDP.
  • Work with community-based organizations to provide evidence-based prevention and lifestyle services.
  • Facilitate collaboration between public health agencies, health care providers, and communities to integrate innovative and evidence-based approaches to enhance blood pressure management and control.
  • Gather and analyze data to assess WISEWOMAN program outcomes.

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How are participant outcomes assessed? What results are reported to CDC?

The WISEWOMAN program focuses on five key risk factors for heart disease and stroke: (1) high blood pressure, (2) diabetes, (3) high cholesterol, (4) obesity, and (5) smoking. Participant risk factor profiles determine risk reduction counseling, and offer referrals to health coaching, evidence-based lifestyle programs, and community resources, such as tobacco quit lines.

WISEWOMAN participants are assessed for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk by using clinical and health behavior indicators associated with these risk factors. Participants are assessed at the initial screening, follow-up assessment, and rescreening. CDC analyzes changes in CVD risk over time with de-identified participant data that programs are required to submit twice a year.

The WISEWOMAN program also requires that each program participate in a national evaluation and report annually on key evaluation findings and performance measures. Read a summary of the implementation of the WISEWOMAN program’s core strategies pdf icon[PDF – 657 KB] in years 1 and 2 (2018–2020) and an evaluation of the program’s successes.

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What is the relationship between the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) and the WISEWOMAN program?

NBCCEDP began in 1991 and the WISEWOMAN program was authorized by Congress in 1993 as a demonstration program within the NBCCEDP to assess NBCCEDP participants for other risk factors and offer additional preventive services. CDC funded three WISEWOMAN demonstration programs in 1995 and over time, the program has continued to add grantees. Because both programs are from the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act of 1990 pdf icon[PDF-1M]external icon, they are considered “sister” programs.

This chart shows the difference between the two programs:

Differences between the WISEWOMAN and NBCCEDP programs.
Program Goals
  • Improve control of high blood pressure and other heart disease and stroke risk factors.
  • Increase early detection of breast and cervical cancer.
  • Improve quality of breast and cervical cancer screening and management.
Services Provided
  • Screenings for heart disease and stroke risk factors.
  • Counseling to reduce risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Patient referrals for medical evaluation and management of health condition(s) when needed.
  • Follow-up appointments for uncontrolled high blood pressure.
  • Patient referrals to healthy lifestyle programs, other healthy behavior support options, and low-cost medication resources.
  • Screenings for breast and cervical cancers, including clinical breast exams, pap tests, and mammography.
  • Diagnostic tests to follow up abnormal screenings.
  • Patient referrals for eligible women with abnormal or suspicious diagnostic test results.
Who Provides Clinical Services
  • Health care providers must also offer the NBCCEDP screening services.
  • Providers must have staff skilled in screening for cardiovascular disease and providing patient-centered counseling to reduce risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Health care providers who offer Pap test and regular pelvic and clinical breast exam screening tests.
  • Providers must be willing to coordinate the care of women enrolled in the program from screening and clinical follow-up to a final diagnosis.
Target Audience
  • Women aged 40 to 64 years enrolled in the NBCCEDP.
  • Cervical cancer screening: for women aged 21 to 64 years, with a focus on women who have rarely or never been screened.
  • Mammography screening for women aged 40 to 64 years, with a focus on women aged 50 to 64 years.
Number of Grantees
  • 21 states and 3 tribal organizations.
  • All 50 US states, the District of Columbia, 5 US territories, and 11 tribes and tribal organizations.

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