Second-year MPH in Global Health and Global WACh Certificate Student, Jaclyn Escudero, had an exciting year as a research assistant for Global WACh’s “PrEP Adherence Among AGYW: A Multidimensional Evaluation” study (an extension of the PrIYA and PrIMA studies), which is funded by the NIH and led by Drs. Grace John-Stewart (Global WACh Director) and Pamela Kohler (Associate Professor, Global Health and Psychosocial and Community Health). Jaclyn assisted Dr. Jillian Pintye (Research Fellow, Global Health) in developing one of two research protocols to evaluate the factors that influence PrEP uptake, continuation, and adherence among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in Kenya.
In Spring 2018, Jaclyn was a recipient of the Department of Global Health’s competitive GO Health Fellowship. The funding support allowed her to travel to Kisumu, Kenya with Dr. Kristin Beima-Sofie (Acting Assistant Professor, Global Health) over Fall quarter to launch “PrIYA-Qual,” the qualitative aim of the protocol. They trained interviewers to conduct interviews and focus group discussions, and as well as PrIYA nurses at four hospitals who would be recruiting AGYW for interviews. Jaclyn worked closely with study coordinators, Harison Lagat and Felix Abuna, to develop study materials and schedule focus group discussions with healthcare workers and PrIYA/PrIMA Community Advisory Board members. Jaclyn managed and tracked the data collection, and reviewed the initial transcripts with the interviewers to produce high quality, accurate transcripts for the study as it enters the next phase. After wrapping up the final interview in December 2018, the Seattle team is developing data analysis plans and codebooks, which will help create a meaningful narrative from multiple community-level perspectives of barriers and reasons for PrEP uptake and continuation among AGYW. These findings can impact PrIYA and PrIMA’s strategies to increase PrEP use and lower risk of HIV acquisition for this population.
Despite not being a formal research assistant this quarter, she is still involved with the study by analyzing the data collected from CAB members’ group discussions as part of her master’s thesis. As Jaclyn reflects on her experience in Kenya, she felt her key takeaways involved a deeper awareness and appreciation of the importance of collaborating with community members in global health research and giving them a stake in the research outcome, and of the immense group effort required to prepare and fine-tune effective study materials. Lastly, this experience offered her something beyond the formal classroom education and training from her program.
“I enjoy working with data and numbers, but cultural context is everything. Being in the field and interacting directly with study participants makes global health research more meaningful to the researcher,” says Jaclyn, “Overall, my work as a Global WACh RA has provided me the opportunity to practice and develop the skills I have learned in my MPH program. It has also given me a strong network of colleagues and mentors, who will continue to offer me guidance and support after I finish my program.”
Note: The 2019 Global Health Fellowship application cycle is open to current UW students from Friday, February 1st through Friday, March 15th at 12pm. Click here for more information and learn how to apply.