Santiago Center Stories: Public Health Research on Drug Use in Women

September 04, 2020

Allison Stewart, a master’s candidate at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health (MPH), is working with Teresita Rocha-Jiménez at the Society and Health Research Center (CISS by its acronym in Spanish) at Chile’s Universidad Mayor as part of the collaboration between CISS and MPH. She is working on qualitative coding and analysis of in-depth interviews conducted with women injection-drug users in Tijuana, Mexico.

Stewart’s analysis and the manuscript explore injection initiation and injection patterns among a group of high-risk women, as well as the intersections between gender, sex work, social networks, and other factors. Separately, she is monitoring migration and Covid-19 news in Chile for a report being published by a local Chilean institution.

Through this internship, Stewart has strengthened her qualitative research skills while contributing to valuable work being done at CISS. Having gone through the entire process of modifying the codebook, coding the interviews, performing the analysis, and seeking a journal for publication, she feels prepared for future research endeavors. Her time with CISS has been very influential, as she says it is leaving her “with a greater understanding of the importance of global research collaboration, particularly during a public health emergency such as the pandemic.” She is excited to continue the global partnership and to contribute to the advancement of population health and well-being.

At MPH, Stewart is in the Population and Family Health department with a certificate in Public Health Research Methods. She has previously worked with various non-profit organizations and research projects in public and global health, both in the United States and Latin America. She is passionate about contributing to public health research and interventions that improve health outcomes among vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, particularly with those affected by forced migration.