Gibbs Leadership Prize: Best Manuscripts of 2023 in Women’s Health Issues

December 18, 2023

Left half of photo shows Godwin Osei-Poku, a Black-presenting man, holding a Gibbs Prize plaque. Right photo shows Sarah White, a white-presenting woman, holding a Gibbs Prize plaque.

WASHINGTON, DC (December 18, 2023)—The Editorial Board of Women’s Health Issues is pleased to announce that the Charles E. Gibbs Leadership Prize for the best paper published in Women's Health Issues in 2023 (Volume 33) has been awarded to two authors: Godwin K. Osei-Poku, MD, DrPH, Associate Director of Research at the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety (a Massachusetts state agency), and Sarah A. White, MSPH, a Research Associate in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Osei-Poku’s article, Risk of Severe Maternal Morbidity in Birthing People With Opioid Use Disorder,” was co-authored by Julia C. Prentice, PhD, Mary Peeler, MD, MPH, Sarah N. Bernstein, MD, Ronald E. Iverson, MD, MPH, and Davida M. Schiff, MD, MSc. It was published in Women’s Health Issues Volume 33, Issue 5 (September/October 2023).

In this study, Osei-Poku and colleagues used 2016-2020 Massachusetts hospital discharge data to examine severe maternal morbidity among birthing people with opioid use disorder (OUD). They found that, compared to birthing people without OUD, those with OUD had higher rates of several conditions: cardiac arrest, pulmonary conditions, acute renal failure, air or thrombotic embolism, shock, and sepsis. In a stratified analysis limited to birthing people with OUD, the authors found no significant differences in severe maternal morbidity between non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, non-Hispanic other race, and non-Hispanic white birthing people. They note that their findings suggest a need to improve access to OUD treatments, remove barriers to prenatal care, and educate obstetrical providers in order to decrease severe morbidity in birthing people with OUD.

White’s article, Implementation of State Laws Giving Pregnant People Priority Access to Drug Treatment Programs in the Context of Coexisting Punitive Laws,” was co-authored by Alexander McCourt, JD, PhD, Sachini Bandara, PhD, Daisy J. Goodman, CND, MPH, CNM, Esita Patel, PhD, RN,  and Emma E. McGinty, PhD. It was published in Women’s Health Issues Volume 33, Issue 2 (March/April 2023).

This study involved legal mapping to identify state laws related to substance use during pregnancy as well as interviews with 51 state leaders about the laws’ implementation. White and colleagues examined two kinds of laws: those that give pregnant and postpartum people priority access to treatment, and those that punish people for drug use during pregnancy by deeming it to be child maltreatment, requiring health care providers to report diagnosed or suspected prenatal drug use to child protective services, or making prenatal drug use a crime. The authors found that 33 states and the District of Columbia had priority access laws; among that group, 28 also had at least one punitive law. Their interviewees indicated that punitive laws may counteract priority access laws by making pregnant people less likely to seek treatment and that more resources are necessary to treat this population effectively.

“The Gibbs Prize ordinarily goes to just one author each year, but the Editorial Board found these articles to complement one another well while exemplifying the kind of strong research we seek to publish,” said Karen McDonnell, Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health Issues. “A quantitative study documents risks faced by birthing people with opioid use disorder, and a qualitative study describes successes and challenges of state laws that aim to help this population.”

The Editorial Board also designated two 2023 manuscripts to receive “Honorable Mention” recognition:

The Charles E. Gibbs Leadership Prize is awarded annually to recognize excellence in research on women’s health care or policy. Priority is given to manuscripts that report the results of original research and that improve understanding of an important women’s health issue. Members of the staff and Editorial Board of Women’s Health Issues are not eligible.

Previous winners of the Gibbs Prize are:

Sara K. Redd, PhD, MSPH (2022)
Anu Manchikanti Gomez, PhD, MSc (2021)
Willi Horner-Johnson, PhD (2021)
Erica L. Eliason, MPH (2020)
Sarah C.M. Roberts, DrPH (2019)
Emily M. Johnston, PhD (2018)
Soumitra S. Bhuyan, PhD, MPH (2017)
Maeve Ellen Wallace, PhD (2017)
Aimee Kroll-Desrosiers, MS (2016)
Miao Jiang, PhD (2015)
Hailee K. Dunn, MPH (2014)
Cynthia LeardMann, MPH (2013)
Nathan L. Hale, PhD (2012)
Jacqueline L. Angel, PhD (2011)
Diana Greene Foster, PhD (2010)
Paula Lantz, PhD (2009)
Sherry Glied, PhD (2008)
Richard C. Lindrooth, PhD (2007)
Joan S. Tucker, PhD (2006)
JiWon R. Lee, MS, RD, MPH (2005)
Dawn M. Upchurch, PhD (2004)
Sherry L. Grace, PhD (2003)
Sarah Hudson Scholle, DrPH (2002)
Sandra K. Pope, PhD (2001)
Ilene Hyman, PhD (2000)
Usha Sambamaoorthi, PhD (1999)
Claire Murphy, MD (1997)
Barbara A. Bartman, MD, MPH (1996)

The Charles E. Gibbs Leadership Prize was established to honor the founding President of the Board of Governors of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health. Charles E. Gibbs, MD (1923–2000) was a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and past chair of ACOG’s Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women, the Task Force on the Voluntary Review of Quality of Care, the Health Care Commission, and the Task Force on Maternal Health Policy. Dr. Gibbs served on the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health Board of Governors from 1990–1999 and was instrumental in shaping the Institute’s mission and structure.

Women’s Health Issues (WHI) is the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, which is based at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.