The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) was a series of clinical studies initiated by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1991, to address major health issues causing morbidity and mortality in postmenopausal women. It consisted of three clinical trials (CT) and an observational study (OS). In particular, randomized controlled trials were designed and funded that addressed cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
In its entirety, the WHI enrolled more than 160,000 postmenopausal women aged 50–79 years (at time of study enrollment) over 15 years, making it one of the largest U.S. prevention studies of its kind, with a budget of $625 million. A 2014 analysis calculated a net economic return on investment of $37.1 billion for the estrogen-plus-progestin arm of the study’s hormone trial alone, providing a strong case for the continued use of this variety of large, publicly funded population study.[2