Thursday Brown Bag Series

This series features current research of members and affiliates of GHP.  The intent is to educate and raise the awareness of our community and beyond, about the research activities presently being conducted by faculty, students, researchers and special guests of the department.

All seminars are held in the GHP 12th floor conference room (SPH-1, 1208) from 1-1:50PM and are open to the Harvard University community and affiliated hospitals.

Spring 2020 Schedule

February 6th
Physicians as Persuaders: Evidence from Hospitals in China
Presented by, Jia Xiang
Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Economics, Pennsylvania State University
For many illnesses, patients seek advice from physicians, who signal the relative value of various treatment options. Patients then incorporate this information into their treatment decision, aware that it may reflect not just their own interests but the physicians’ as well. I characterize this interaction formally using a Bayesian persuasion framework and test the model’s main implications, using health insurance claims data for a large district in China. Using a Difference-in-Differences approach, I find that, for a diagnosis for which surgical treatment is somewhat discretionary, a 1% increase in physicians’ reimbursement for surgery leads to an 8% increase in the likelihood of surgery, with no change in health outcomes. The effect is 1.5 times larger for more insured patients. I then estimate a parameterized version of the model to calculate the value of fully informing patients about the relative value of treatments. While only 8% of the patients choose surgery, 57% of them would not have done so were they fully informed, whereby total welfare rises by 13%.

February 13th
The Global Diet Quality Project: Tools and Data to Measure What the World Eats
Presented by, Anna Herforth, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Diet quality is vital to public health and nutrition, yet as a global community we have not collected data on what people eat across countries. The Global Diet Quality Project seeks to collect comparable, current diet quality data within the Gallup World Poll: the only survey mechanism to measure well-being across 140+ low, middle, and high-income countries. We use a new low-burden survey instrument that takes <5 minutes to implement, and a suite of diet quality indicators designed for global application. This will produce the first diet quality data-set across countries, and it will enable governments, agencies and projects to collect their own diet quality data going forward.

February 20th
Genocide and Health: Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim Survivors
Presented by, Matthew Smith
Co-Founder and CEO of Fortify Rights

Myanmar Army-led attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017 killed tens of thousands of civilians, razed more than 300 villages in the span of a few weeks, and forced more than 800,000 men, women, and children into neighboring Bangladesh. It was the fastest refugee outflow since the Rwandan genocide. Fortify Rights, a U.N. Fact Finding Mission, and others documented evidence of the crime of genocide, leading The Gambia to file a groundbreaking lawsuit in 2019 against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice. The law of genocide enumerates five acts of genocide, including “serious bodily or mental harm.” In what ways and to what extent have Rohingya experienced mental harm, committed with an intent to destroy them as a group? This talk will explore the issue of mental harm as an act of genocide, including a discussion of new findings from a participatory research project led by Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh as well as evidence of other ongoing, grave issues of Rohingya health in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

February 27th
Venezuela Mixed Flow Migration Crisis and the Challenges of Assessing Vulnerability and Providing Protection
Presented by, Phuong Pham, Ph.D., MPH
Assistant Professor at the Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director of Evaluation and Implementation Science at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI).
Between 4.76 and 6.5 million refugees and migrants have left Venezuela as of January 2020, although actual figures are likely higher. The profiles and rates of refugees and migrants leaving Venezuela has shifted over time.  Whereas earlier waves of refugees and migrants, many of whom were young Venezuelans with university degrees, arrived in neighboring countries between 2016 and 2018, more recent waves increasingly include women, children and families who tend to arrive via the Colombian border.  This latter group of refugees and migrants is one representing a lower income and education profile with more limited family/social networks, rendering them particularly vulnerable to exploitation, extortion, human trafficking, gender-based violence (GBV), discrimination, and xenophobia. Data documenting these flows are limited due to difficulties capturing populations on the move and estimating informal border crossings. We’ll discuss the challenges and potential methods of assessing the evolving vulnerability of refugees and migrants from Venezuela.

March 5th
PDIA (Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation) Adventures in Health
Presented by, Salimah Samji, MPA/ID
Director for Building State Capability at the Center for International Development at Harvard University
In this seminar you will learn about the Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach to solving complex development problems and how it has been used to solve problems in the health sector.

March 12th
Yellow Fever Outbreak in the Metropolitan Area of São Paulo: Lessons Learned and Challenges for Public Health Emergency Preparedness
Presented by, Aluisio Segurado, Ph.D.
Professor of Infectious Diseases at the School of Medicine at the University of São Paulo
In early 2018 the metropolitan area of São Paulo (20 million inhabitants) experienced an outbreak of yellow fever. In his presentation Dr. Segurado will share the lessons learned with this unprecedented health emergency in a Latin American megacity and the challenges we face in terms of Public Health preparedness.

March 26th
The Economic Consequences of Increasing Sleep Among the Urban Poor in India
Presented by, Heather Schofield, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
Adults in Chennai have strikingly low quantity and quality of sleep relative to typical guidelines: despite spending 8 hours in bed, they achieve only 5.6 hours per night of sleep, with 5.9 awakenings per hour. A treatment to improve night sleep by providing information, encouragement, and sleep-related items increased sleep quantity by about 30 minutes per night over three weeks without improving sleep quality. Increased night sleep had no detectable effects on cognition, productivity, decision-making, or psychological and physical well-being, and led to small decreases in labor supply and thus earnings. In contrast, offering high-quality naps at the workplace increased productivity, cognition, psychological well-being, and patience. Our results show that the measured returns to increased night sleep do not offset the opportunity cost inherent in increasing sleep, contrary to expert predictions. We provide suggestive evidence that high-quality sleep, normally unavailable in home environments in Chennai, may have high returns.

April 2nd
Presented by, Timothy Erickson, MD
Professor at The Harvard Humanitarian Health Initiative

April 9th
Presented by, Kelly Blanchard

April 16th
Impact of a Solar Light Intervention on Quality of Maternal and Infant Care in Uganda: A Stepped-Wedge Cluster Randomize Trial
Presented by, Slawa Rokicki, Ph.D.
Instructor in the Department of Health Behavior, Society, and Policy at the Rutgers School of Public Health. Visiting Scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

April 23rd
Impact of CHW Home Visits on Child Neurodevelopment in South Africa
Presented by, Peter Rockers, DSc
Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health at The Boston University School of Public Health
Dr. Rockers will present results from a cluster-randomized controlled trial testing the impact of a parent support intervention delivered during monthly home visits by community health workers in South Africa. The home visit curriculum focused on child health, nutrition, and play-based psycho-social stimulation. The intervention was integrated into existing CHW service structures and was designed to be burden-neutral to generate useful evidence for local policy-making. The presentation will also describe a nested sub-study exploring biological mechanisms linking child malnutrition, inflammation, and EEG and eye-tracking measures of neurodevelopment.

April 30th
Presented by, Pia Raffler, Ph.D.

May 7th
An RCT of Unconditional Transfers as Humanitarian Assistance in Eastern Congo
Presented by, John Quattrochi, ScD.
Assistant Professor of Public Health at Simmons University