top of page


Ongoing Research

Ongoing research

Research Partners: Expecting Justice and the University of California, San Francisco

Principal Investigators: Anu Manchikanti Gómez, PhD, MSc (UCB) and Deborah Karasek, PhD, MPH (UCSF)

Funding by: California Preterm Birth Initiative, March of Dimes, and the City and County of San Francisco

Summary: In a community-academic partnership, Expecting Justice is piloting the first pregnancy income supplement program in the US—the Abundant Birth Project (ABP). The program will provide unconditional cash supplements to Black and Pacific Islander mothers and birthing people as a strategy to reduce preterm birth and improve economic outcomes for these communities.


The ABP Evaluation Study aims to evaluate the program and understand how extra cash during pregnancy impacts pregnant women and birthing people and their babies. The research team includes researchers from UC Berkeley, UCSF and community researchers from Black and Pacific Islander communities. We hope that results from this Evaluation Study can be used to create similar programs for pregnant people around the Bay Area and across the nation.

Principal Investigators: Anu Manchikanti Gómez, PhD, MSc (PI) and Cassondra Marshall, DrPH, MPH (Co-I)

Funding by: Arnold Ventures

Summary: Efforts to expand contraceptive access in the United States are stymied by the lack of person-centered data addressing unmet need. This project will (1) establish the national level of person-centered contraceptive access, including use of preferred method, use of preferred service delivery approach, and met informational needs; and (2) use these data to enrich national contraceptive surveillance approaches and to develop targeted strategies to improve contraceptive access. Informed by a reproductive health equity framework, this project lays the groundwork for aligning efforts to expand contraceptive access with the needs of the most under-resourced communities.

Recently Completed Research

Reframing LARCs

Principal Investigators and Research Partners: Liza Fuentes, DrPH (Guttmacher Institute), Anu Manchikanti Gomez, PhD (University of California, Berkeley), and Lisa Stern, MA, MSN (Planned Parenthood Northern California)

Funding by: Society for Family Planning Research Fund

Summary and findings: Removing barriers to use of long-active reversible contraception (LARC) has been lauded as an important strategy for reducing unintended pregnancy, yet there has been little attention to women’s experiences of LARC’s “reversibility,” a perceived advantage of LARC over sterilization and a key feature of the life cycle of LARC use. The scant research examining LARC removal indicates that women may face multilevel barriers to removal of IUDs and implants and that the perception that removal may be difficult is enough to dissuade some women from considering LARC. This study aimed to fill an important gap in the literature on LARC removal as a foundation to inform clinical recommendations that enhance reproductive autonomy.

     Using mixed methods and a patient-centered approach, this project described LARC users’ experiences and perceptions regarding device removal; elucidate facility-, payor-, and provider-related factors that facilitate or hinder a desired LARC removal; and identified LARC removal preferences. The study employed the transtheoretical model stages of behavior change to highlight dynamic decision-making processes and identify salient barriers and facilitators at various stages of the LARC removal process. Survey and qualitative interviews were conducted in four states with a purposive sample of current and former LARC users (ages 15-44) who were in distinct stages of behavior change with regard to LARC removal. 

Harnessing the Potential of Pharmacists as Family Planning Providers in Rural California

Collaborators: Sally Rafie, PharmD, UCSD; Erin Garner-Ford, MA, ACT for Women & Girls

Funding by: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Summary: Rural communities in the Central Valley of California experience sexual and reproductive health inequities, with higher adolescent birth rates than urban and suburban areas, declines in access to formal sex education, and inadequate access to healthcare, including contraceptive care. Pharmacies are an important source of healthcare in rural America, particularly as pharmacists’ scope of practice is expanded to prescribing medication, chronic disease management, and preventive health services. In California, trained pharmacists can now prescribe hormonal contraception directly to patients of any age. Our 2017 research found that only 11% of California pharmacies offered this service, with similarly low levels of availability in chain and independent pharmacies. While research indicates that pharmacist-prescribed contraception is acceptable and of interest to potential contraceptive users and pharmacists, pharmacy students, and other healthcare providers, media reports suggest that perceptions of low demand for this service undergird lack of implementation.


This mixed-methods study aimed to examine: (1) the implementation of pharmacist-prescribed contraception; (2) community members' knowledge and interest in this service; (3) pharmacists’ views on facilitators, barriers to implementing this service and decision-making processes regarding implementation; and (4) key stakeholders’ perspectives on implementation. In summer 2019, we held a community researcher summer program in Visalia, where ACT for Women & Girls is located. Through this training, community members from Tulare County learned about and participated in the research process to develop a survey of community members’ interest in pharmacist-prescribed contraception.

Recently Completed Research

Collaborators: Cassondra Marshall, DrPH, UCB; Andrea Jackson, MD, UCSF; Alli Cuentos, SisterWeb; Marna Armstead, SisterWeb 
Funding: UCSF Preterm Birth Initiative

Summary: Doula care, or the support of a trained professional during, before, and/or after birth, consistently shows positive impacts for women not only in terms of their birthing experience but also in birth outcomes. The study evaluated the impact of the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s initiative to provide community doula care to pregnant Black and Pacific Islander women through SisterWeb Community Doula Network. The program provides doula care before, during, and after birth, including prenatal visits, labor and delivery support, and postpartum visits, to eligible women delivering at San Francisco hospitals.


From 2019 to 2022, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco worked with SisterWeb to conduct process and outcome evaluations of this initiative. We aimed to determine the impact of community doula care on a range of clinical outcomes and patient-reported outcomes, including engagement with prenatal and postpartum care, satisfaction with childbirth, and experience of respectful care. We used mixed methods and a range of data sources—program data, surveys, and in-depth interviews—to achieve this aim.

Collaborators: Cassondra Marshall, DrPH, UCB (PI); Marna Armstead, SisterWeb; Starr Britt, Roots of Labor Birth Collective; Monica McLemore, PhD, UCSF; Sayidah Peprah, Frontline Doulas
Funding: Patient-Centered Research Outcomes Institute

Summary: Research on the impact of community doulas is limited; community doulas provide comprehensive services at low or no cost to underserved communities, are often members of the communities they serve, and share cultures and languages with their clients. Our objective was to establish a collaborative of California stakeholders to develop a research agenda for community doula care as an intervention to advance maternal and infant health equity. The long-term objective is to inform patient-centered, equity-focused, community-informed research on the impact of community doula care.

bottom of page