Project Sponsor(s): Stephanie Morain, PhD, MPH
Project Title: The Ethics and Politics of Public Health Policy
Project Description: Dr. Morain is working on several projects related to public health ethics, politics, and policy. The student selected to work with this research team may participate in any one or several of these areas, depending on need and timing.
One project involves studying the Zika response within the Texas Medical Center. This project, a collaborative effort with faculty at BCM, TCH, and UT, involves: (a) key stakeholder interviews with clinical and scientific experts, (b) focus groups and/or interviews with pregnant patients being assessed for Zika at TMC-area clinics, and (c) review of institutional policies related to Zika. As part of this project, we will (a) analyze the qualitative data from this project, (b) write up results for academic publications and “white paper” style reports, (c) draft model policies for adoption by TMC institutions, and (d) disseminate the findings and model policies to other institutions across the U.S. Potential student tasks related to this project include literature reviews, reviewing interview/focus group transcripts, assistance in data presentation (e.g., tables, figures), and assistance with dissemination of study findings and model policies (e.g., blog posts, infographics, meeting materials, etc.). Spanish-speaking students might also be asked to support translation of research materials from Spanish to English.
A second area of work involves studying the ethics and politics related to laws that restrict adolescent behavior to protect or promote public health. Dr. Morain has previously written on the ethics of raising the smoking age to 21 to reduce tobacco use. Future projects in this area may include: (a) an empirical analysis of the political factors that support/impede state policymaking efforts to raise the minimum age of tobacco to 21; (b) a normative analysis of when adolescents should be considered “old enough” to make different types of health-related decisions in the context of recent neuroscience research indicating adolescent brain development continues until the mid-20s. Potential student tasks related to this project include literature reviews and/or annotated bibliographies, tracking legislative developments, and (dependent on funding), supporting qualitative analysis of key stakeholder interviews of legislators and other policymakers.
Institution and Location: Baylor College of Medicine, Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy
Eligibility for international students?: Yes
Expectations of student:
- The student must devote 10 hours per week to the project (consistent with a 3-credit course) and will develop a timeline of activities in collaboration with supervisor(s). The student will meet at least monthly with the faculty supervisor(s) to evaluate progress. The student will attend relevant research team meetings as requested (may occur weekly depending on project).
Prerequisite training: Prior coursework in applied ethics, political theory, US policy, or public health is preferred, but not required. Candidates should be self-motivated, organized, detail-oriented, adaptable, professional, and punctual. Spanish language skills may be helpful, but not required.
Knowledge and skills student can expect to gain: Knowledge about public health ethics, politics, and policy; skills related to literature reviews and summarizing the current status of research; insight into the day-to-day work of research and in translating research results into practice; potentially experience analyzing and coding qualitative data; networking opportunities, including attending relevant meetings and research presentations.