The Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies is delighted to announce the selection of Laura Attanasio as a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow. Dr. Attanasio is the second post-doctoral fellow with the Collaborative, joining Margo Shea (Ph.D., History, University of Massachusetts Amherst), who began a two-year appointment with the Collaborative in July 2015.
Laura Attanasio earned her Ph.D. in Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Her interdisciplinary graduate training included a focus in the sociology of health and illness and a minor in population studies. Her research examines how social factors shape access to and quality of healthcare, particularly in the context of women’s reproductive health.
Laura has published on topics including the HPV vaccine, breastfeeding, contraception, and various aspects of the childbirth experience. Her dissertation explored the role of the patient-provider relationship in determining use of labor induction and cesarean delivery, and whether this relationship explains racial/ethnic and socioeconomic status disparities in procedure use. The first manuscript from her dissertation was published in October 2015 in Medical Care. Laura’s research interests have also been shaped by community engagement. She participated in a community-university research collaboration with a Twin Cities non-profit organization that provides culturally-appropriate doula care (non-medical labor support) to low-income women. Publications stemming from this work influenced policy discussions in the Minnesota legislature, which resulted in legislation allowing Medicaid reimbursement for doula services.
In her work with the Collaborative, Laura hopes to build on existing partnerships between Sewanee and Yale faculty, the local community, and health-related organizations to explore experiences in the healthcare system in Southern Appalachia and generate information that can be used to enhance health and wellbeing. She is also excited to add to Sewanee’s health-related course offerings, with planned courses on health policy and the history and politics of American midwifery that pay particular attention to the context of Southern Appalachia.