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Andrea Blanchard

Andrea's thesis title is "A mixed methods study to understand the influence of community health worker's home visits on equity in perinatal health in Uttar Pradesh, India."

Her primary supervisor is Dr Tim Colbourn.

To get in touch with Andrea, please email her at andrea.blanchard.15@ucl.ac.uk.

About Andrea

Andrea Blanchard is a completing PhD student at the Institute for Global Health. She previously obtained a Master of Science in Community Health Sciences from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in International Development Studies at the University of Winnipeg in Canada. She has received multidisciplinary training in development, social science, epidemiology and global health theory and methods. In her research, she draws on a range of community-based, mixed methods to uncover the interplay of social and contextual factors, and their role in shaping the effects of community-based health programs for rural and marginalized communities. These interests grew out of her experiences living and working in India for over fifteen years, as well as working on studies of non-communicable health issues and inequalities, and their underlying socio-economic and political factors, experienced by First Nations people in Canada. 

In India, she worked for over five years with the non-governmental organization, Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) to conduct statistical and qualitative analyses in the context of their HIV/AIDS prevention and maternal, newborn and child health programmes in north Karnataka. Specifically, she worked with them to develop an empowerment conceptual framework to characterize and evaluate progress of their community mobilization programmes with vulnerable populations. She also developed and conducted a community-based participatory research study to explore the roots of intimate partner violence facing women in sex work in north Karnataka, and qualitatively explored the perspectives of women and families on the quality of maternal and newborn health care there. These experiences led her to partner with the Uttar Pradesh Technical Support Unit (UP TSU), which has supported the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health programmes of the Indian government's National Health Mission since 2013 in Uttar Pradesh state, north India. 

Thesis summary

The primary research question of Andrea's PhD thesis is, "to what extent and by which mechanisms does exposure to home visits during pregnancy contribute to increased equity in birth preparedness, institutional delivery, essential newborn care practices, and perinatal mortality between socio-economic position groups in Uttar Pradesh, India?" She has conducted a mixed method study using a relational lens, combining behavioural surveys, social mapping and focus group discussions to better understand whether community health workers (CHWs) have been able to improve equity in perinatal health outcomes among women of lower and higher socio-economic positions, and how their efforts are helped or hindered by wider contextual influences.

Working closely with field investigators and programme staff from UP TSU, the research has contributed to the monitoring and evaluation of the programme, and has drawn attention to the complex but crucial ways that socio-economic, health system, and political processes must be more widely addressed to heighten CHWs' ability to improve equity in perinatal outcomes. Through this research, she aims to garner epistemological, ethical and programmatic insights to advance health equity research and community-based health programmes in future.