2017-2018 Academic Catalog 
    Jun 28, 2022  
2017-2018 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

IDCE 30282 - Community Based Health Research

This advanced IDCE course will provide students with an overview of community health through a “hands on” experience in conducting research in the field. A trans-disciplinary course, it will draw on and integrate the theoretical and methodological perspectives of fields including medical anthropology, community and population public health, and medicine. As part of a global health initiative within IDCE and in collaboration with UMASS Medical, it will be an advanced course that builds on methods and health courses across the department that use both qualitative and quantitative approaches.

In this course, students will work on an ongoing community-based health research project that uses social network analysis and storytelling to understand pregnancy-related advice sharing networks and to try to understand perinatal cultural practices and beliefs.

The project, “Networks of Informal Helpers in Perinatal Care Practices and Beliefs among Immigrant Women in Worcester, MA”, will use a mixed-methods cross-sectional design by integrating network surveys with semi-structured interviews with immigrants and refugees in Worcester. Since we are interested in the quality, intensity, and trust in information-sharing health networks, a mixed-methods approach will allow us to complement network structures with case-level ethnographic understanding of health-seeking behavior and decision-making related to health treatment.

The specific aims of the research project include:

  1. Use Social Network Analysis to understand the networks of information sharing about pregnancy in immigrant communities in Worcester, as well as identify the natural helpers who are most commonly referred to for pregnancy-related information.


  1. Enhance the capacity of local providers to convey culturally-appropriate health messaging to African-born patients, and to engage patients in primary care instead of free health clinics.

Over the course of the semester students will work in teams to design and conduct a study, using qualitative or quantitative approaches or mixed methods that combine the two. They will also develop a literature review to situate their work in the appropriate literature. Student teams will also be meeting with residents and faculty from the University of Massachusetts Medical School for debriefing. Each group will present their study to the class and team partners and also critique the study designs of the other project groups. Preliminary assignments include a research design, critiques of the research design and methods of recent journal articles, data collection, data analysis, and reporting on results.

This course requires a significant time commitment outside of class for the research in the community. It will also have a steep learning curve at the beginning for those not familiar with SNA.

Since this is an advanced course, students will be expected to be familiar with quantitative data analysis techniques (univariate and some bivariate) and be comfortable using data analysis tools such as Microsoft Excel, and nVivo or equivalent software for the qualitative research.  Only students who have taken a research methods course and who are able to pass a basic qualitative and quantitative data analysis screening will be admitted to the class.

Anticipated Terms Offered: Annual