Georgia Maternal and Infant Health Research Group (GMIHRG): Mobilizing Allied Health Students and Community Partners to Put Data into Action
Purpose Despite having an obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn) workforce comparable to the national average, Georgia is ranked 50th in maternal mortality and 40th in infant mortality. The Georgia Maternal and Infant Health Research Group (GMIHRG) was founded in 2010 to evaluate and address this paradox. Description In the several years since GMIHRG’s inception, its graduate allied health student researchers and advisors have collaborated with community partners to complete several requisite research initiatives. Their initial work demonstrated that over half the Georgia areas outside metropolitan Atlanta lack adequate access to obstetric services, and their subsequent research evaluated the reasons for and the consequences of this maldistribution of obstetric providers. Assessment In order to translate their workforce and outcomes data for use in policymaking and programming, GMIHRG created reader-friendly reports for distribution to a wide variety of stakeholders and prepared concise, compelling presentations with targeted recommendations for change. This commitment to advocacy ultimately enabled them to: (a) inspire the Georgia Study Committees on Medicaid Reform and Medical Education, (b) influence Georgia General Assembly abortion bills, medical scholarship/loan legislation, and appropriations, and (c) motivate programming initiatives to improve midwifery education and perinatal regionalization in Georgia. Conclusion GMIHRG members have employed inventive research methods and maximized collaborative partnerships to enable their data on Georgia’s maternal and infant outcomes and obstetric workforce to effectively inform state organizations and policymakers. With this unique approach, GMIHRG serves as a cost-efficient and valuable model for student engagement in the translation of research into advocacy efforts, policy change, and innovative programming.
KeywordsObstetrics Workforce Access to care Maternal and infant health Advocacy
The authors would like to acknowledge the Georgia Maternal and Infant Health Research Group Board Advisors (Pat Cota, RN, MS and Andrew Dott, MD, MPH) and Members, without whom this work would not have been possible. Gratitude is also extended to all GMIHRG partners for their ceaseless support, especially: Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society; Emory University’s Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Nursing; Georgia Board for Physician Workforce; Georgia Chapter of March of Dimes; and Georgia Department of Public Health.
- 1.American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2014). Workforce Fact Sheet: Georgia. www.acog.org/-/media/departments/government-relations-and-outreach/wf2011GA.pdf. Accessed 13 Mar 2015.
- 2.Amnesty International. (2010). Deadly Delivery: The maternal health care crisis in the USA. www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/deadlydelivery.pdf. Accessed 6 Sept 2015.
- 3.Anderson, A. (2013). The influence of perinatal services on preterm birth rates in non-metropolitan Georgia, 1999–2009. (Unpublished master’s thesis.) Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.Google Scholar
- 4.Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. (2015). Overview: 2016 Fiscal Year for the Department of Community Health. www.gbpi.org/overview-2016-fiscal-year-for-department-of-community-health. Accessed 27 July 2015.
- 5.Georgia Department of Public Health. (2015). Georgia Maternal Mortality: 2012 case review. www.dph.georgia.gov/sites/dph.georgia.gov/files/MCH/MMR_2012_Case_Review_June2015_final.pdf. Accessed 6 Sept 2015.
- 6.Hatchett, M., et al. (2014). Georgia General Assembly legislation: HB 998, medical scholarships; revise provisions related to scholarships and loans. www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/20132014/HB/998. Accessed 14 Mar 2015.
- 7.March of Dimes. (2010). Premature Birth Report Cards: Georgia. www.marchofdimes.org/materials/premature-birth-report-card-georgia.pdf. Accessed 21 Aug 2011.
- 8.McKillip, D., et al. (2012). Georgia General Assembly legislation: HB 954, abortion; criminal abortion; change certain provisions. www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/20112012/HB/954. Accessed 14 Mar 2015.
- 9.Meyer, E., et al. (2016). Working towards safe motherhood: Delays and barriers to prenatal care for women in rural and peri-urban areas of Georgia. Maternal and Child Health Journal. doi: 10.1007/s10995-016-1997-x.
- 10.Owens, L. (2012). Terry England, Georgia Republican lawmaker, compares women to farm animals. The Huffington Post, 9 March 2012. www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/terry-england-farm-animals_n_1335976.html. Accessed 4 Feb 2016.
- 11.Patterson, A. & Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society. (2015). OBGyn News: Georgia legislation gives OBGyns first Medicaid increase in fourteen years. www.gaobgyn.org/resources/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/OB-GYN-Newsletter-April-2015-3-lr.pdf. Accessed 28 July 2015.
- 15.United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Division of Vital Statistics (DVS). Linked Birth/Infant Death Records 2007–2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program, on CDC WONDER On-line Database. http://wonder.cdc.gov/lbd-current.html. Accessed 22 Jan 2016.