Reflection From the Field: Dr. Emily Herfel’s Reflections in Kisumu

Reflection From the Field: Dr. Emily Herfel’s Reflections in Kisumu

It is hard to believe I have called Kisumu home for almost a year, with time cut short by the elections set for early August. Our team is busy, skillfully orchestrating multiple studies concurrently. The stigma education study, looking at the impact of a stigma-responsive educational video on cervical cancer screening behavior, is in full swing. The six health facility sites are offering research-supported HPV self-testing as part of their cervical cancer screening program, led by community healthcare volunteers (CHVs). Our three intervention sites are also showing the HPV stigma-responsive education video. The team then visits each site once a week to ask women to participate in a validated HPV/cervical cancer stigma measurement tool. Jeniffer, our study clinician, is leading the project with grace, balancing the day-to-day activities with each facility. Getting positive feedback from the CHVs  and women of the community about a cervical cancer screening technique that avoids a speculum helps to keep us motivated. Some of the sites are...
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Reflection From the Field: SRT Student, Laya’s, Reflections in Kisumu

Reflection From the Field: SRT Student, Laya’s, Reflections in Kisumu

As we start our eighth and final week in Kisumu, the SRT team is finishing up the last stages of our on-the-ground research, and preparing for our trip back to the US!    At this point in time, we are almost finished with our clinic observations. Despite several scheduling changes, we will complete our project with five to six observation sessions at each of the six clinics. Additionally, we have set in motion the plans for the Kisumu team to conduct focus group discussions (FGDs) at the intervention clinics after we leave. The purpose of the FGDs is to understand women’s opinions about our educational intervention, and how they feel about incorporating peer navigation services into the clinics. Unfortunately, we will not be here to witness the FGDs as we originally anticipated, but we’ve been working on setting everything up so that they will run smoothly in our absence. That includes getting participant recruitment up and running, going over our questions and...
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Reflection From the Field: SRT Student, Bentley’s, Reflections in Kisumu

Reflection From the Field: SRT Student, Bentley’s, Reflections in Kisumu

First and foremost, we have passed the halfway point of our time in Kenya! Time flies by, and we are discussing what we want to get out of the next four weeks. Insofar, we collected more than 20 observation data to evaluate the workflow of stigma education at the clinic. During this process, we faced multiple hiccups, especially scheduling a visit and clearing up logistics. Three of our observation clinics had a twelve-day-long CHV training, so we had to flip our schedule to ensure we could collect the data we initially planned. We spent the last couple of days creating a contingency plan so that our time in Kenya could contribute to the depth of our data. Listening to what other teammates thought helped us, as a team, solidify the future direction of our study, such as what variables to analyze in observation studies, codes for focus group discussion, and the focus of our manuscript.   Besides working on an observational study,...
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Reflection From the Field: SRT Student, Haley’s, Reflections in Kisumu

Reflection From the Field: SRT Student, Haley’s, Reflections in Kisumu

We have made it through week three of our time in Kisumu, Kenya! The weeks are truly flying by because our research is progressing, and we are enjoying our time in the city. The other SRT students and I officially started our workflow analysis observations at each of the six clinics this past week. There are three intervention clinics, at which community health volunteers (CHVs) display an educational video about human-papillomavirus (HPV) self-screening, and three control clinics, where CHVs provide health education talks about HPV and offer the self-screening. Through our observations so far, it is clear that all the CHVs are quick learning, adaptable, and passionate about increasing HPV screening for women in Kisumu! We have enjoyed our first week of observations because of all the positive aspects we have seen with our study. Fortunately, many women are opting into HPV self-screening, and we are able to increase prevention of cervical cancer in many of the Kisumu sub-counties! We...
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Reflection From the Field: SRT Student, Michelle’s, Reflections in Kisumu

Reflection From the Field: SRT Student, Michelle’s, Reflections in Kisumu

Sunday marked the first full week that the rest of the students from the Kenyan Reproductive Health SRT team and I have been in Kisumu, Kenya. Our experience thus far has been full of introductions and familiarizations, and we have had an exciting time learning from the field while finding our footing in a new area. After we flew into Kisumu, we were able to get situated in our new living space and learn to make ourselves at home for the next two months, starting to cook for ourselves and establishing new rituals (like bonding through watching Suits together during dinner). We have learned to navigate some parts of the town with the help of our local partners, learning where to buy groceries and hot meals, and we have done a bit of exploring on the weekends and our walks to work. Although moving to an unfamiliar area has been challenging, we have been able to improvise and overcome to...
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Returning to the Field

Returning to the Field

In March 2022, I was able to return to Kenya to resume my dissertation research. It was wonderful to be back after two years away and to see and work with Kenyan colleagues in person again. I spent part of the time conducting follow-up interviews with sexual and reproductive health NGOs in Kisumu and part of the time preparing to conduct a survey in Migori County later this year. My qualitative work began in February 2020 when I was last in Kenya. I met with several Kisumu-based sexual and reproductive health NGOs to learn about how the US’s global gag rule had impacted their operations, relationships with donors, and relationships with other NGOs. When the pandemic hit and Kenya experienced lockdowns, I along with my undergraduate research assistants Ema Kuczura and Sarah Hubner, conducted semi-structured interviews over zoom with roughly 35 NGOs to understand how they were responding to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased demand for their services,...
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