Georgia Maternal and Infant Health Research Group (GMIHRG): Mobilizing Allied Health Students and Community Partners to Put Data into Action
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- Zertuche, A.D., Spelke, B., Julian, Z. et al. Matern Child Health J (2016) 20: 1323. doi:10.1007/s10995-016-1996-y
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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.