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Research

Highlights 

  • 4 currently active social science research projects
  • 4 currently active clinical studies

  • 13 external researchers who collaborated with PPLM investigators on PPLM projects

  

Medical and social science research and clinical training advanced PPLM’s mission and supported its strategic focus on advancing health equity.

The Power of Print

PPLM’s research team published nine influential articles in professional journals, several of them related to mifepristone and misoprostol, the evidence-based standard for medication abortion as well as medical management of miscarriage. Two articles in a special issue of the journal Contraception examined the impact on patients of onerous restrictions imposed nationwide by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the use of mifepristone. Other articles discussed gender diversity among abortion patients, addressing the needs of transgender and nonbinary patients; the use of contraception methods in adolescents following abortion; and contraception after abortion in patients with opioid use disorder.

Studies that Matter

A study encompassing both qualitative and quantitative data explored barriers to mifepristone use for sexual and reproductive health care in Massachusetts. The study created an online educational module for physicians seeking to learn about evidence-based miscarriage care, developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Medical Society. Two studies addressed racial inequities: one sought to identify gaps in data quality that could impede health equity research, and another analyzed disparities in gestational age (length of pregnancy) among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) patients receiving abortions. The results of these ongoing studies will improve the care BIPOC patients receive from PPLM and other sexual and reproductive health care providers. Other studies looked at the safety and effectiveness of a new contraceptive product (the Mona Lisa, an IUD not yet currently available in the U.S.), and of extending the duration of use of Nexplanon (an implant currently available in the U.S). Data from these studies will be provided to the FDA and help expand contraceptive options.

Fellowship Breaks New Ground

In 2020, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) recognized “Complex Family Planning (CFP)” as an official subspecialty of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  Now, physicians who focus their academic careers on contraception and abortion will have a formal voice within organized medicine.  In 2021, the Harvard-MGB-PPLM combined complex family planning fellowship program officially received ACGME accreditation and current fellows received essential clinical training in abortion and contraception care, skills for designing and implementing research projects, and exposure to policy and advocacy work. Additionally, a new Reproductive Health Equity Research Fellows Program brought master’s level trained public health scholars to PPLM to pursue research on racial inequities in family planning care.

“PPLM researchers have a respected voice in the Massachusetts medical establishment and serve as a vital source of information and guidance influencing clinical policy and decision-making across the country.”

Dr. Alisa Goldberg, Vice President of Research and Clinical Training