Data Matters! A Research Update

Research has been needed!

Since the work of Georgia STOMP began in 2017, leaders have tried to base advocacy decisions on hard data and known facts concerning the need for period products in various cohorts of Georgia’s population.

The recurring issue has been a severe lack of data! Research exists in low-income countries, but the need for period products in the US, remains, for the most part, undocumented. Other than an oft repeated result of a study done in 2017 by Always Brand“Nearly 1 in 5 American Girls Have Missed School Due to Lack of Period Protection” — little data has existed.

That is changing! 

In February of 2019, a study out of St. Louis University looked at the  “Unmet Menstrual Hygiene Needs Among Low-Income Women.” Georgia STOMP attendees at the 2019 National Summit for Period Leadership were thrilled to hear a presentation of that study by lead researcher, Dr. Anne Sebert Kuhlmann. Look for an article published by Dr. Kuhlmann, soon!

At the same event, Dr. Kelley Massengale, Director Research & Evaluation at the Diaper Bank of North Carolina, presented research compiling data from The Alliance for Period Supplies (APS) Allied Programs. These programs provide menstrual products at locations throughout the country. A full paper on that research is forthcoming, but Dr. Massengale, recently provided Georgia STOMP with a summary of the preliminary results.

Great News for Georgia!

As Georgia STOMP has grown as a coalition, a concerted effort has been made to connect with public health researchers throughout the state working to understand the health needs of women. Numerous of these distinguished researchers have formally joined the coalition and are pursuing research projects to shed light on unmet menstrual needs in Georgia. We are grateful for their input, insights and guidance as we seek to align public policy with the need for menstrual equity.

Additionally, Georgia STOMP is aware of 4 research projects addressing menstrual equity and the elimination of period poverty currently underway:

  1. Andrea Swartzendruber, PhD, MPH with UGa’s College of Public Health has recently been awarded a grant to study unmet menstrual health needs and their consequences among middle- and high-school students in two Georgia school districts.
  2. Drs. Yameika Head, Ryan Davies and Melanie Vega in conjunction with a team at Mercer University including Dr. Betsy Smith and student doctor Haley Vale, are working with Georgia STOMP member organization, Macon Periods Easier, led by Andrea Cooke, MFT Doctoral Candidate, to study the prevalence of period poverty and how it affects students in Bibb County Public Schools. 
  3. Jenn Williams, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education MPH Candidate at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, recently did a project on “How does menstrual health impact school performance in public high schools in Georgia?”
  4. Emory graduate students, Alison Hoover (MPH student, class of 2021) and April Ballard (PhD Candidate in Env Health) were recently awarded a grant from the 120 under 40 program, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health and Bayer, to focus on the needs of those experiencing homelessness in relation to COVID-19, family planning, and menstruation, specifically looking at what products are preferred, and with what frequency and quantity. 

The existence of these studies and how they will inform future advocacy and policy work of Georgia STOMP cannot be overstated!

 

Updated Monday, August 10th to include entire Mercer Research Team.

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