Alison B. Comfort, PhD

Assistant Researcher, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences

 

Dr. Alison B. Comfort is a health economist whose research focuses on better understanding the role of health technologies, specifically pregnancy tests, in improving reproductive and maternal health outcomes and assessing the role of price and other factors to influence uptake of health products, such as contraceptives and anti-malarial bed nets. More broadly, Dr. Comfort is interested in conducting rigorous impact evaluations of interventions to improve reproductive health and maternal and child health, both in the United States and in developing countries. At the Bixby Center, she is working with the Beyond the Pill program to conduct implementation science research on provider training and patient education in clinic settings in the United States to increase contraceptive provision, including through school-based health centers. She is also leading research in Uganda to introduce home pregnancy tests to resolve uncertainty about pregnancy status.

Dr. Comfort has led several randomized controlled trials, including an impact evaluation to assess the effect of providing community health workers with free pregnancy tests for distribution to improve provision of hormonal contraceptives in Madagascar. She has evaluated the long-term effects of in-utero conditions on maternal survival later in a woman’s life using secondary data from several African countries. She has also conducted several studies related to malaria, including an impact evaluation investigating the effect of price on demand and use of bed nets. In India, she is looking at the consequences of being uninsured on access to health services and health spending and the implications for longer term poverty. She speaks French, Spanish and Malagasy, and previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar.

 

Areas of interest:

  • Contraception
  • Education and training
  • Health insurance
  • Impact evaluations
  • Malaria
  • Maternal health
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive health

 

Honors and awards:

  • Audience Choice Award for pregnancy tests research, UCSF’s Maternal Neonatal Child Health Shark Tank Presentation, 2016
  • Daniel Bell Award for Outstanding Social Science Research, Abt Associates, 2014

 

Education:

  • Amherst College, Bachelor’s in Economics and Spanish
  • Harvard University, Doctorate in Health Policy (Economics concentration)

 

Selected publications:

Comfort A, Leegwater A, Nakhimovsky S, Kansembe H, Hamainza B, Bwalya B, Alilio M, Johns B, Olsho L. (2017) Exploring the use of routinely-available, retrospective data to study the association between malaria control scale-up and microeconomic outcomes in Zambia. Malaria Journal 16(15)View in: PubMed

Comfort A, Krezanoski P. (2016) Demand for and use of insecticide-treated bed nets: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Madagascar. Health Policy and Planning (In press).

Comfort A. (2016) Long-term effect of in-utero conditions on maternal survival later in life: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Population Economics 29(2):493-527. View in: DOI

Comfort A, Chankova S, Juras R, Hsi N, Peterson L, Hathi P. (2016) Providing free pregnancy test kits to community health workers increases distribution of contraceptives: Results from an impact evaluation in Madagascar. Contraception 93:44-51. View in: PubMed

Hatt L, Chatterji M, Miles L, Comfort A, Bellows B, Okello F. (2015) A False Dichotomy: RCTs and Their Contributions to Evidence-Based Public Health. Global Health: Science and Practice 3(1):138-140. View in: PubMed