CAPS Town Hall presents: Ruvani Jayaweera, MPH, PhD cand.; Caitlin Gerdts, PhD, MHS - Using Respondent Driven Sampling to Measure the Incidence and Prevalence of Informal Sector Abortion in South Africa: A Methodological Assessment


550 16th St., 3rd Fl., Room 3700
San Francisco, CA 94143
United States

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Overview: Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) is a sampling methodology that has been successfully used to estimate the prevalence of sensitive and illegal behaviors among hidden populations, but has never been used to study abortion among a general population of women of reproductive age. During this talk, researchers from Ibis Reproductive Health will discuss the feasibility of applying the RDS methodology to estimate the incidence and lifetime prevalence of informal sector abortion and present preliminary findings from our RDS study of women of reproductive age in Soweto, South Africa. We hope to have a lively discussion to discuss the potential applications of RDS, as well as limitations and challenges of this method.

Ruvani Jayaweera is a Senior Project Manager at Ibis Reproductive Health, where she manages research projects in the United States, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, and Indonesia. Her current work focuses on expanding access to safe abortion in restrictive settings, developing and testing innovative methods of measuring abortion incidence and complications, and evaluating mHealth applications. Ruvani is currently a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a Master of Public Health in Global Epidemiology with a certificate in Maternal and Child Health from Emory University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley.

Caitlin Gerdts is the Vice President for Research at Ibis Reproductive Health, and leads the development and implementation of Ibis’s research agenda. Caitlin is an epidemiologist whose past and current research includes clinical and epidemiologic studies to measure the prevalence of informal sector abortion, document women’s experiences with medication abortion self-management, explore strategies (including mobile technologies) to improve access to safe abortion, analyze women’s experiences traveling for abortion in Europe, measure abortion-related mortality, and understand the consequences of abortion denial. Caitlin’s methodologic expertise is in study design and implementation, impact evaluation, and causal inference methods; she has authored and co-authored over 20 peer-reviewed publications. Prior to joining Ibis, Caitlin served as an Epidemiologist with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California, San Francisco. She received her undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Stanford University; a Masters in Health Sciences (MHS) in Population, Family, and Reproductive Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley.