The Wallace Center Seasonal Newsletter: Summer 2023

Understanding Contraceptive Use Through Social Networking Sites

In June, Wallace Center researchers Cassie Marshall and Betsy Pleasants published Exploring language used in posts on r/birthcontrol: A case study using data from Reddit posts and Natural Language Processing to advance contraception research  in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Using publicly available data from Reddit as a source of information about people’s contraceptive experiences and needs, Marshall and Pleasants used Natural Language Processing to analyze more than 105,000 posts from a subreddit focused on “providing a space to discuss birth control methods.” The authors concluded that r/birthcontrol has emerged as a particularly valuable space for exchanging views about aspects of contraceptive use that are not well addressed by clinical contraceptive counseling. 

Their work fills a gap in knowledge about where people go to learn more and make decisions about birth control.  Furthermore, as the paper cites, “[t]he value of real-time, open-access data on contraceptive users’ interests is especially high given the shifting landscape of and increasing constraints on reproductive health care in the U.S.” This work builds on previous Wallace Center research using social media as an innovative tool to understand current topics in reproductive health

Pleasants is now working on an analysis of subreddit to examine how people got information and support related to abortion during 2022.

Check out Berkeley Public Health’s Research Highlight on the paper.

Full publication available here.

Publications & News


Association of Lifetime Exposure to Glyphosate and Aminomethylphosphonic Acid (AMPA) with Liver Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome at Young Adulthood: Findings from the CHAMACOS Study

A new study finds observed associations of glyphosate or AMPA exposure during childhood with liver inflammation and metabolic syndrome at young adulthood and agricultural glyphosate use during the prenatal period and/or childhood (from birth to age 5 years old) was associated with metabolic syndrome at 18 years old. This study suggests that glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide worldwide, and AMPA, a degradation product of glyphosate and amino-phosphonates, may increase risk of liver inflammation and/or cardiometabolic disease in young adulthood.

Read the full study here

Pregnant Women & Diabetes 

Experiences of Preconception Counseling among Pregnant Women with Preexisting Diabetes: Opportunities to Improve Patient-Centered Care
Available research suggests that patients with diabetes do not regularly receive preconception counseling, but information on patients’ experiences of counseling is scant. Dr. Cassondra Marshall and Dr. Lindsay Parham, alongside partners at UCSF, conducted a qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews with 22 patients between October 2020 and February 2021. Pregnant patients with preexisting diabetes were recruited from a specialty diabetes and pregnancy clinic at a large academic medical center in Northern California. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed using an inductive and deductive content analysis approach.

Read the full article

Doula Care

California's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, started covering doula services in January 2023. School of Public Health Assistant Professor Cassondra Marshall recently published a brief that examines the perspectives of Medi-Cal managed care plans as they prepared to implement the Medi-Cal doula benefit and commercial plans and large employers who are not legally required to, but may consider, supporting and investing in doula care.

"An extra layer of pressure to be my best self”: Healthcare provider perspectives on how doulas foster accountability and bridge gaps in pregnancy-related care. In this study co-authored by Wallace Center Faculty Dr. Cassondra Marshall, physicians, certified-nurse midwives, and nurses in San Francisco described how doulas foster provider- and institutional-level accountability and bridge gaps in pregnancy-related care. The accompanying research brief includes tips for fostering productive interactions between hospital/clinic staff and doulas.

Postpartum Depression Screening

Faculty Director Kim Harley et al. find that being cared for by a midwife during pregnancy increases the likelihood of being screened for postpartum depression. 

Read full article here.

Environment and Reproductive Health

Faculty Director Kim Harley featured in Zoe Report on chemicals in cleaning products.

Read more here

Wallace Summer Students

DrPH Residency 
Marisol DeOrnelas

Marisol DeOrnelas is completing her DrPH residency with the Wallace Center this summer. Her work focuses on qualitative interview and coding methods and organizational strategic planning. She is supporting the Wallace Center’s research into payor perspectives on the gaps, barriers and opportunities for change in the delivery of postpartum care.

Wallace Summer Researcher
Betsy Pleasants

Betsy Pleasants, MPH, is working with the Wallace Center this summer to draft several peer-reviewed articles on the use of social networking site data (r/abortion, a Reddit page for abortion support seekers). She will be presenting the results of this work at several major Public Health conferences in the 23-24 academic year, including APHA and SFP. Pleasants recently spoke on this topic at the annual SER conference in June.

Wallace Center Summer Intern
Yucca Phun

Yucca is a Public Health undergraduate student working with Betsy Pleasants on her study of online communities for abortion and birth control.