Reproductive Health, Fertility, and Romantic Relationships

a PDHP primary research area

The study of fertility, family planning, and reproductive health has been a hallmark of the Population Studies Center (PSC) – home of the PDHP – since its inception. PSC founder Ron Freedman collaborated with one of the founders of survey methodology at Michigan, Leslie Kish, to design and implement the first nationally representative survey of fertility-related attitudes and behaviors in the U. S. – the Growth of American Families, 1955. Close collaboration between PDHP demographers and survey methodologists continues to fuel key innovations producing new NICHD Population Dynamics Branch-supported research.

The PDHP’s ongoing work creating innovations in survey methodology and applying those to the study of fertility and reproductive health continues to produce significant new scientific advances. Our focus on data creation has led to very productive projects including the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study, and also fuels significant new work on romantic relationships and related reproductive health issues such as sexual assault, forced intercourse, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Innovative design features shepherded by PDHP affiliates, like continuous interviewing and responsive survey design, have dramatically increased the amount of data and improved the regularity of data available to study these reproductive health, fertility and romantic relationships. Our work led to a breakthrough in the constructions of population representative web surveys, exemplified by our innovative American Family Health Survey (AFHS), which offers a highly secure, smart-phone enabled, web survey that delivers maximum confidentiality while greatly lowering the costs of data creation. A growing group of PSC affiliates are pushing forward the science of intimate partner violence (IPV) and its consequences for reproductive health in a range of social and epidemiological contexts. Other newly funded projects are emblematic of our growing program of research that over the next five years will use population-scale experimental designs to advance population dynamics research. These include a study of the links between affordable contraception, unintended pregnancy, and subsequent child health dynamics, and another that takes advantage of a survey and community-level random assignment of a health program to learn how health services targeting sexually transmitted infections support sexual and reproductive health during and after a subsequent massive natural disaster.

On-Campus Faculty Affiliates

Elizabeth Eve Bruch, Sociology
Sarah Compton, Obstetrics & Gynecology
Mick P. Couper, Sociology
Vanessa Dalton, Obstetrics & Gynecology
Emily Dove-Medows, Nursing
Paul J. Fleming, Health Behavior & Health Education
Margaret Frye, Sociology
Yasamin Kusunoki, Public Health
Vanessa Lang, PSC
Sarah Peitzmeier, Epidemiology
Pamela Smock, Sociology
Rob Stephenson, Medical Demography
James Wagner, Survey Methodology
Brady T. West, Survey Methodology
Justine Wu, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Family Medicine

Off-Campus Faculty Affiliates

Reuben Thomas, Sociology