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Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health

Research and Practice



Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health

Clinical Correlates of Mycoplasma Genitalium in Young Women

Maria Trent
The primary aims of this study are to determine the rate and 12-month longitudinal clinical correlates of MG and TV infection among a sample of young pregnant women 13-29 years of age seeking reproductive health care in an urban hospital setting. The outcomes of this work will be critical for determining need for integration of MG testing in routine laboratory testing once available.

Evaluation of Sexual Health Curriculum for Health Students in Tanzania

Maria Trent
As documented in the US Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior, training of health providers in sexual health care is critical to addressing a broad array of the nation's sexual and reproductive health concerns. Yet rigorous trials evaluating the effects of sexual health curricula on provider behavior are rare. In sub-Saharan Africa, an environment which has the highest rates of HIV, STI, teen pregnancy, unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, child marriage of girls and sexual assault of boys in the world, and where female genital cutting, wife-beating, marital rape, criminalization of homosexuality, stigmatization of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons, myths about masturbation leading to dysfunction, and rates of sexual dysfunction in both men and women are common, we could find no formalized training of health providers in sexual health care. Sexual health education, even of health providers, is a sensitive issue in Africa. Consequently, a rigorous study of its effects is needed, if such education is to be widely adopted. Recently, at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Dar es Salaam, we adapted a PAHO/WHO sexual health curriculum training for healthcare providers for implementation in Tanzania. Participants were 87 nursing, midwifery, and allied health science students. Pre-post evaluations show the curriculum to be highly acceptable, needed, and desired by students, feasible in implementation, and effective in improving student knowledge, attitudes, and skills in providing sexual health care to patients. The logical next step in this line of research is to conduct the first rigorous trial of a comprehensive sexual health training curriculum for health professionals in Tanzania. There are three specific aims. Aim 1 is to conduct a social ecological needs assessment of sexual health care delivery in Tanzania. To determine whether midwifery, nursing, medical, and allied health science students would benefit from one curriculum or separate curricula tailored by discipline, we will conduct focus groups (3 from each discipline). We will also conduct individual interviews with key informants to address structural and cultural issues. In Aim 2, we will further adapt our curriculum, ensure it is culturally tailored to the Tanzanian/sub-Saharan context, and pilot test it. Aim 3 is to evaluate the effectiveness of an African-based, culturally-appropriate, sexual health curriculum. We will conduct a randomized, controlled, single blinded trial of the curriculum against a waitlist control assessing effects on sexual health knowledge, attitudes, and counseling skills (n=206 students per arm; 412 in total). Hypotheses will test if the curriculum is effective, and whether it is more effective for one discipline than another. If effective, MUHAS has committed to implement the curriculum for all their health students. Given MUHAS is preeminent in health student education across Africa, the curriculum assessed in this study has high potential to be widely adopted as a new standard of training for health professionals across Africa.

Faith-based Adolescents Involved in Total Health

Terrinieka Williams Powell
Focused on those areas of Baltimore where the adolescent pregnancy rates are the highest, this study aims to understand what is currently being done in the churches of those communities to address pregnancy prevention and to identify the potentials and barriers for effective interventions.

The Global Early Adolescent Study

Robert Blum, Caroline Moreau, Kristin Mmari, Saifuddin Ahmed, Lori Heise, Leah Keonig, Mengmeng Li, Mark Emerson
The Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS) seeks to understand how norms, attitudes and expectations about gender influence health outcomes and behaviors across the adolescent period. Building upon formative, mixed-methods research conducted in sixteen countries between 2014 and 2016, the GEAS has collected baseline data from over 13,000 adolescents on five continents since 2017. Additional survey topics include sexual and reproductive health, mental health, body comfort, school retention and empowerment. In four countries, the GEAS is used to evaluate the longitudinal impact of gender-transformative interventions carried out by Rutgers, Netherlands; Save the Children and the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies. Participating GEAS sites include New Orleans, USA; Cuenca, Ecuador; Santiago, Chile; São Paolo, Brazil; Belgium; Indonesia; Shanghai, China; Kinshasa, DRC; Cape Town, South Africa; and Blantyre, Malawi. Results from the longitudinal GEAS will help to answer important questions about the formation and manifestations of gender inequality, its relationship to health and well-being and the interventions that are effective in promoting gender equality.

Current activities include efforts to improve awareness of and response to ethical issues in research and programming with adolescents living in vulnerable contexts the development of a special supplement using baseline GEAS focused on gender equality. At present, students are involved in manuscript development with partners in China, Ecuador, Bolivia and Malawi. For more information about the GEAS, including our global network of collaborators, recent reports and publications and open-access survey and training instruments, please visit the GEAS website.

Harriet Lane Clinic’s Title X Program

Arik V. Marcell
Funded by the Office of Population Affairs, to provide reproductive health services to adolescents & young adults who are uninsured, underinsured or seeking confidential services and conduct quality improvement strategies to ensure providers are delivering quality family planning and sexual and reproductive health care services.

Technology Enchanced Community Health Nursing to Reduce Recurrent STIs after PID

Maria Trent
This study examines the efficacy of a technology-enhanced community health nursing intervention on adherence to PID treatment recommendations and subsequent short-term sexually transmitted infection acquisition using a randomized controlled trial.


Gender Based Violence

Community-partnered technology for partner violence prevention and response: MyPlanKenya

Michele Decker, Nancy Glass (School of Nursing)
This initiative adapts and refines a safety planning “app” intervention for women in urban Kenya, followed by evaluation via randomized controlled trial. The app enables priority-setting for safety-related decisions and provides support and referrals to local resources. It harnesses community health volunteers (CHVs) as key lay professionals poised to play a critical role in partner violence prevention and response. With support from ideas42.

Continuum of Shelter and Housing Models for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence

Michele Decker, Charvonne Holliday
With support from the National Institute of Justice, this initiative entails formative evaluation and evaluability assessment for leading models of housing stabilization for partner violence survivors, specifically rapid rehousing and transitional housing, in partnership with House of Ruth Maryland. Following a formative phase, we monitor health, safety, and well-being indicators among IPV survivors receiving housing support over a 6-month follow-up period, and evaluate readiness to support IPV survivors among housing providers.

Developing and Piloting A Gender-Based Violence Intervention Module to Reduce HIV Risk among Female Sex Workers (FSWs)

Michele Decker, Susan Sherman (Epi), Nancy Glass (School of Nursing)
With support from the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research (P30AI094189, PI Chaisson), this initiative uses a community-based participatory approach to develop and pilot test a brief violence intervention module to encourage violence-related harm reduction, provide social support related to violence victimization, and reduce related HIV risk behavior among women who trade sex or are sexually exploited.


Gender Disparities

Collaborative for Gender Equity and Empowerment in Education, Health and Labor Systems

Michele Decker, Lori Heise, Nancy Glass, Rosemary Morgan, Colleen Stuart, Toni Ungaretti, Vivian Lee
This collaborative blends gender analysis with case studies and development and field testing of new indicators for gendered aspects of labor, education and health systems, in collaboration with academic and community partners.

Duration of Hormonal Contraceptive Use: Immune Responses & Vaginal Microbiota

PI: Dr. Khalil Ghanem – Co-investigator: Anne Burke
This NIH-funded study investigates the impact of hormonal contraceptives on the vaginal microbiome. Use of postpartum IUDs and implants. This study evaluates outcomes in women who receive long-acting contraception in the immediate postpartum period.

Gender barriers to non-communicable disease prevention, treatment and management

Michele Decker, Rosemary Morgan, Nancy Glass
This collaboration with World Health Organization applies gender analysis frameworks to non-communicable diseases via a scoping review of gender barriers to care, primarily in low and middle income countries.

The Global Early Adolescent Study

Bob Blum, Caroline Moreau, Kristin Mmari, Saifuddin Ahmed, Lori Heise, Leah Keonig, Mengmeng Li, Mark Emerson
The purpose of The Global Early Adolescent Study is to understand how gender norms influence sexual attitudes and relationship formation in early adolescence as well as subsequent sexual activity and contraceptive practices in older adolescence. Specifically, the study explores: 1) gender socialization in early adolescents; 2) how gender norms inform sexual and reproductive health (SRH) across adolescent years 3) how gender transformative interventions can improve SRH trajectories. The study takes place in 9 urban poor sites across 4 continents (South Africa, Malawi, DRC, Belgium, China, Indonesia, Chili, Brazil and the United States) and follows between 600 and 3000 young adolescents 10-14 years in each site over a 3 to 5 year period. This research provides empirical evidence testing gender pathways to SRH while guiding programs to overcome gender discrimination and promote women’s and girls’ wellbeing.
To learn more please visit the GEAS page.


Maternal Health

Antihypertensive Medication in Pregnancy: An Update from the 2011 WHO Recommendations for Prevention and Treatment of Preeclampsia and Eclampsia

Donna Strobino, Saifuddin Ahmed, Erika Werner (Brown Univ, school of Medicine), Mahua Mandal, Laina Gagliardi, and Roxanne Beltran
The aim of this project is to update the science behind WHO recommended anti-hypertensive medications in pregnancy to prevent preeclampsia and manage hypertension and to estimates the prevalence of chronic hypertension, preeclampsia and all hypertensive disorders in pregnancy using data from population- based studies worldwide and facility based studies in resource poor settings. The study also using extant data to estimate unmet need and potential demand for antihypertensive medications in pregnancy in low resource settings.

Contraceptive Efficacy of a Novel Vaginal Ring

Anne Burke
This is an upcoming NICHD-funded, prospective study evaluating use of a vaginal contraceptive ring in healthy women. Pharmacokinetics of oral contraceptives before and after bariatric surgery. This study compares pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles of oral contraceptive use for women undergoing gastric bypass surgery.


Men's Sexual and Reproductive Health

Project Connect Baltimore

Arik V. Marcell
This is a CDC-funded program to evaluate school and community-based methods to engage males in HIV/STD testing and sexual and reproductive health care in Baltimore City by training youth-serving professionals on a web-based clinical services provider guide for male-specific clinical services (Y2CONNECT.org). If successful, this project will advance the field of male health promotion through its use of innovative approaches and technology that are easily transferable to a variety of settings and implemented at low cost

Technology Enchanced Community Health Nursing Study

Maria Trent
The study involves 350 young women 13-21years old diagnosed with PID in Baltimore and randomize them to receive CHN clinical support using a single post-PID face-to-face clinical evaluation and SMS communication support. We hypothesize that repackaging the recommended CDC-follow-up visit using a technology-enhanced community health nursing intervention (TECH-N) with integration of an evidence-based STI prevention curriculum will reduce rates of short-term repeat infection by improving adherence to PID treatment and reducing unprotected intercourse and be more cost-effective compared with outpatient standard of care (and hospitalization).
To learn more, please visit the Study Record Detail page.


Pregnancy Prevention: Family Planning/Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion

Advance Family Planning

Duff Gillespie, Beth Fredrick
Advance Family Planning (AFP) is an advocacy initiative established in 2009 at the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health. AFP aims to increase the financial investment and political commitment needed to ensure access to high-quality, voluntary family planning through collaborative, evidence-based advocacy aimed at working effectively with decision-makers. AFP is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

 

Contraceptive Efficacy of a Novel Vaginal Ring

Anne Burke
This is an upcoming NICHD-funded, prospective study evaluating use of a vaginal contraceptive ring in healthy women. Pharmacokinetics of oral contraceptives before and after bariatric surgery. This study compares pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles of oral contraceptive use for women undergoing gastric bypass surgery.

Duration of Hormonal Contraceptive Use: Immune Responses & Vaginal Microbiota

PI: Dr. Khalil Ghanem – Co-investigator: Anne Burke
This NIH-funded study investigates the impact of hormonal contraceptives on the vaginal microbiome. Use of postpartum IUDs and implants. This study evaluates outcomes in women who receive long-acting contraception in the immediate postpartum period.

Evidence of COVID-19’s Potential Impact on Inequities in Abortion Access

Suzanne Bell, Anne Burke, Carolyn Sufrin

Results from a small study completed by Bloomberg School faculty and students found that COVID-19 potentially increased existing inequities related to abortion. The study looked at abortion service availability and care seeking experiences in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia region during the pandemic and found that financially disadvantaged groups were disproportionately negatively impacted. More information is found in the facsheet, 

FP quality metrics in Maryland

Caroline Moreau, Anne Burke
This project aims to test a framework for monitoring quality of care for family planning among all women of reproductive age in Maryland, using computerized data found in health insurance claims and electronic health record (EHR) systems

Measuring the incidence and safety of Abortion

Caroline Moreau, Suzanne Bell
The PMA Abortion project aims to use the PMA platform to conduct research on Abortion in 3 geographies (Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, Rajasthan) to assess abortion prevalence and safety using both direct and indirect measures and to explore women’s access to care for abortion procedures.

PMA Agile: Monitoring family planning service delivery and use at the subnational level

Amy Tsui, Scott Radloff, Phil Anglewicz
This project is being implemented in 13 urban sites in collaboration with research partners in Burkina Faso, DR Congo, India, Kenya, Niger and Nigeria. PMA Agile conducts quarterly surveys of health facilities and semi-annual surveys of clients to monitor change in service preparedness and quality as well as client satisfaction and their continued use of contraception.

Performance Monitoring in Action

Scott Radloff
Performance Monitoring for Action or PMA for short (formerly PMA2020) is a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded project, implemented in partnership with Jhpiego and a network of university and research institutions, that supports rapid-turnaround surveys to monitor progress in reproductive health indicators. The project was launched in 2013.

PMA implements cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys to fill a data gap – collecting information to understand the drivers of contraceptive use dynamics – information that is not currently measured by other large-scale surveys. While having a core family planning focus, the PMA platform can be used for data collection in other health topics. To date the platform has been used to collect data for guiding programs in abortion, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, women and girls’ empowerment, maternal and child health, nutrition, water and sanitation, menstrual hygiene management, neglected tropical diseases (schistosomiasis), sample vital registration systems, and primary health care.

The project employs a network of female resident enumerators recruited from near the selected survey clusters who are trained to use smartphones to gather survey data. The PMA platform has been deployed in 11 countries so far with plans to expand. Countries include Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Indonesia, India, Cote d’Ivoire, and Kenya.

For more information please visit pmadata.org.

The predictive utility of unmet need and intentions to use contraception in Uganda

Amy Tsui, Scott Radloff, Saifuddin Ahmed
The study team is assessing the predictive utility of a leading indicator, unmet need for contraception, and that of a less prominent one, future intention to use, as influencing contraceptive adoption, using data from a four-year panel follow-up of a national sample of Ugandan women.


STI

Quality improvement to integrate HIV testing in the Harriet Lane Clinic’s Title X Program

Arik V. Marcell
Funded by the Office of Population Affairs, the goal of this program is to integrate rapid HIV testing as part of Title X services and increase the proportion of clients receiving HIV test results and evaluate increased use using rapid Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles.