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Sexual and Reproductive Health

IPR affiliates conduct research on the full range of sexual and reproductive health outcomes, including childbearing, contraception, reproductive health care, and sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). The setting for this research is both the U.S. (especially Ohio, but also national studies) and outside the U.S. (especially Sub-Saharan Africa, but also global studies). Topics that are the focus of multiple research projects are unintended fertility (in the U.S. and globally), contraception, and STIs (in the U.S. and in Sub-Saharan Africa). IPR affiliates have been innovative in developing new measures (e.g. techniques for estimating unintended fertility) and in testing new methods of contraception. Some of this research makes use of publicly available national surveys, such as NSFG and NLSY (U.S.) and DHS (Sub-Saharan Africa), while other projects have engaged in primary data collection (in Ohio, in various African countries). Financial support for this research is a mix of NIH and private foundations.


Featured Projects

Project Title: Demand for Modern Contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Methods, New Evidence

PI: John Casterline, Lazarus Professor in Population Studies, Department of Sociology

The overarching purpose of this project is to explore the reasons for the continuing high desired number of children, and the corresponding weak demand for contraception, in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The extensive body of empirical research of the past few decades lacks rigorous investigation of fertility desires; this includes the major demographic survey programs. Our hypothesis is that evident features of the demand for contraception in this region – limited, ambivalent, fragile – are explained by the complexities and uncertainties surrounding childbearing in many contemporary African societies.  The project has two major and distinct components:  

(i)  Statistical analysis of existing national demographic survey data from Sub-Saharan Africa on fertility desires, unintended fertility, and use of modern contraception.  This analysis employs innovative models and methods and is based at IPR.  Four papers are planned. 

(ii)  Intensive investigation of men’s and women’s fertility desires and demand for modern contraception through qualitative interviews to be conducted in multiple sites in Nigeria. Several modalities – focus group discussions, in-depth interviews – will be employed. The design calls for 150+ interviews at four or more sites purposively chosen to achieve diversity in reproductive regimes and in cultural and socioeconomic systems.

External Funding 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;  July 2018 - June 2022; $1,471,799



Project Title: Ohio Policy Evaluation Network (OPEN)


Alison Norris, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University

Division of Epidemiology and Division of Infectious Diseases 

OPEN Principal Investigator

Other Investigators:

Danielle Bessett, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati 

Department of Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Affiliate 

OPEN Principal Investigator

OPEN is a research collaborative of more than 50 scholars from The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, and Case Western Reserve University who conduct social-science research on reproductive health. It is co-led by Dr. Alison Norris and Dr. Danielle Bessett. OPEN’s peer-reviewed research is interdisciplinary, with scholars from a variety of backgrounds. They are sociologists, physicians, lawyers, epidemiologists, and graduate students. OPEN’s scientific research focuses on healthcare access in Ohio and nearby states, specifically contraception and family planning, abortion care, and infant and maternal well-being. OPEN seeks to improve reproductive health outcomes and uphold autonomy for all Ohioans. OPEN’s research offers policymakers, health care providers, community-based organizations, and administrators the scientific evidence that helps them support patient autonomy, better serve their communities, and provide quality reproductive health care. We seek to inspire Ohioans to advance reproductive equity and access, which are foundations to healthy lives, healthy families, and healthy communities.

Recent Publications 

McGowan, Michelle L. Alison Holt Norris & Danielle Bessett. (2020). Care Churn — Why Keeping Clinic Doors Open Isn’t Enough to Ensure Access to Abortion. New England Journal of Medicine 383(6): 508-510. "Why Keeping Clinic Doors Open Isn’t Enough to Ensure Access to Abortion"

Alison H. Norris et al. “Abortion Access in Ohio’s Changing Legislative Context, 2010–2018”, American Journal of Public Health 110, no. 8 (August 1, 2020): pp. 1228-1234. "Abortion Access in Ohio’s Changing Legislative Context, 2010–2018"




External Funding

Ohio Policy Evaluation Network Implementation Grant
Anonymous Foundation

Ohio Health Policy Evaluation Project: Planning Grant
Anonymous Foundation

IPR Seed Grant 

OPEN does not have an IPR Seed Grant. However, OPEN is housed within IPR and many IPR members are involved with OPEN.

Link to project website