Jennifer J. Infanti
Background and activities
Medical anthropology, global health, gender-based violence, reproductive health, women's health, applied social science
Academic interests and professional history
I am currently the Principal Investigator of a 3-year study titled "OPTIMISE – Optimising pregnancy and childbirth care for immigrant women in Central Norway", funded by Samarbeidsorganet / the Regional Health Authority of Central Norway (2019-2021). This study is anchored in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Kvinneklinikken) at St. Olavs University Hospital.
The objectives of OPTIMISE are to: (i) investigate potential diversities in patterns and trends in use of antenatal and childbirth (maternity) health services by immigrant and Norwegian women; (ii) explore perceptions and experiences of immigrant women and maternity health care providers on strategies to overcome barriers to accessing and delivering optimal care; and (iii) develop and evaluate the effects of a training intervention for maternity care providers on measures of cross-cultural competencies.
I moved to Norway for a postdoctoral research position at NTNU in 2013. This research was a component of a large multi-country study led by Professor Berit Schei called Addressing Domestic Violence in Antenatal Care Environments (ADVANCE). The aims of ADVANCE were to: (i) identify and assist pregnant women living with domestic violence through antenatal care and (ii) improve the quality of pregnancy and childbirth care, in Nepal and Sri Lanka. ADVANCE was funded by the Research Council of Norway from 2013-2018 and its collaborators are based in Norway, Sweden, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the USA and the UK. I was also the coordinator of the study team.
Prior to working at NTNU, I completed my doctoral degree in social anthropology in Palmerston North, New Zealand (2004-2008). My PhD research explored children's capacities for resilience in the context of domestic violence and other adversities through a community-based intervention and life-story interviews. Thereafter, I worked at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Geneva, Switzerland (2008-2011) in project officer roles in the proposals, performance and strategic information teams. My work at the Global Fund reinforced the challenges of providing foreign aid assistance that reflects the actual needs of the intended beneficiaries; of fostering local participation and leadership in aid-donor relationships; and of accurately and meaningfully evaluating project results. I continue to be interested in exploring the ambiguities and contradictions that are characteristic of the relationships between international aid agencies and national and local systems of knowledge and power, as well as strategies to improve evaluation methodologies and the impact of aid initiatives. I was also a postdoctoral researcher at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) from 2011-2013, where I worked with an interdisciplinary team of scientists exploring screening and lifestyle modification to reduce long-term diabetes risks among women with gestational diabetes.
While my topic of study has varied over the years, I have consistently retained a focus on applied research. It is important to me to ensure priority attention is given to the voices, concerns, hopes, struggles, priorities and everyday realities of the local people closest to the reserach problem under investigation, whether health-related or otherwise. I am firmly committed to ensuring that local knowledge becomes part of the foundation of global health and development interventions and policy. My research and teaching reflect this orientation.
Teaching and student supervision
Since 2016, I have held temporary part-time positions as associate professor of global health at NTNU. In this role, I have supported the establishment of a new master's programme in global health. I give lectures on the topics of resilience, research design, theoretical foundations in global health, ethics and moral debates in global health, pregnancy and violence in the global south, gender-based violence and maternal health. I share responsibility for reviewing and providing input on student research protocols, grading assignments, developing examinations, course coordination, and supervising and examining thesis research projects.
Future research ideas
I am interested in contributing to future research collaborations and supervising master's and PhD research on topics and study designs such as below (list is not exhaustive):
- designing / adapting / improving research tools to measure: (i) domestic violence in pregnancy in clinical settings, (ii) the quality of maternity care, (iii) the cultural competence of healthcare providers
- developing and evaluating the effectiveness and acceptability of pedagogical tools designed to 'transform' health care (for example, theatre-based role play for health providers to reflect on medical ethics)
- ethnographic research on experiences of immigrant women with maternity care in Norway
- developing and evaluating psychosocial support interventions to improve postpartum health for immigrant women who have experienced distressing or unsatisfactory births in Norway
- studies of various designs focused on reducing mistreatment of women in maternal or reproductive health services (e.g. reducing disrespectful practices, ensuring safe and satisfactory birth experiences, prioritising women's rights and dignity, reducing hierarchies and horizontal violence in health systems, addressing health provider's own traumas and attitudinal constraints to respectful care, empathy training or other patient-centered approaches to health education)
- studies using the methodological techniques of narrative research, situational analysis/mapping, or rapid anthropological assessment (RAP)
Scientific, academic and artistic work
A selection of recent journal publications, artistic productions, books, including book and report excerpts. See all publications in the database
- (2019) Perceptions on the sexual harassment of female nurses in a state hospital in Sri Lanka: a qualitative study. Global health action. vol. 12 (1).
- (2019) Domestic violence and perinatal outcomes – a prospective cohort study from Nepal. BMC Public Health. vol. 19.
- (2019) Can Forum Play Contribute to Counteracting Abuse in Health Care? A Pilot Intervention Study in Sri Lanka. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. vol. 16 (9).
- (2018) Factors shaping political priorities for violence against women-mitigation policies in Sri Lanka. BMC International Health and Human Rights. vol. 18 (22).
- (2018) ‘When helpers hurt’: Women’s and midwives’ stories of obstetric violence in state health care institutions, Colombo district, Sri Lanka. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. vol. 18 (1).
- (2018) Exposure to domestic violence influences pregnant women's preparedness for childbirth in Nepal: A cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE. vol. 13:e0200234 (7).
- (2017) How are private medical colleges collaborating with the National TB Control Programme in Nepal, a qualitative study. Health and Primary Care (HPC). vol. 1 (4).
- (2016) Community perceptions on domestic violence against pregnant women in Nepal: a qualitative study. Global health action. vol. 9 (1).
- (2015) "The fairer the better?" Use of potentially toxic skin bleaching products. African Health Sciences. vol. 15 (4).
- (2015) Addressing domestic violence through antenatal care in Sri Lanka's plantation estates: Contributions of public health midwives. Social Science and Medicine. vol. 145.
- (2014) Reasons for participation and non-participation in a diabetes prevention trial among women with prior gestational diabetes mellitus. BMC Medical Research Methodology. vol. 14 (13).
- (2014) Screening uptake rates and the clinical and cost effectiveness of screening for gestational diabetes mellitus in primary versus secondary care: Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. vol. 15 (27).
- (2013) An evaluation of Croí MyAction community lifestyle modification programme compared to standard care to reduce progression to diabetes/pre-diabetes in women with prior gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. vol. 14 (121).
- (2013) ATLANTIC DIP: simplifying the follow-up of women with previous gestational diabetes. European Journal of Endocrinology. vol. 169 (5).
- (2013) The Many Facets of Storytelling: Global Reflections on Narrative Complexity. 2013. ISBN 978-1-84888-166-2. At the Interface/Probing the Boundaries (1).
Part of book/report
- (2013) Telling Lives: Narrative Experiments in Research on Children's Experiences of Domestic Violence. The Many Facets of Storytelling: Global Reflections on Narrative Complexity.
- (2008) Children's Experiences of Family Violence in Aotearoa/New Zealand: A Manifesto for Hope. Hope: Probing the Boundaries.