Gibbs Leadership Prize: Best Manuscripts of 2019 in Women's Health Issues

February 3, 2020

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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 2019 (Volume 29) has been awarded to Sarah C.M. Roberts, DrPH, an associate professor with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California, San Francisco. Her manuscript, “State Policies Targeting Alcohol Use during Pregnancy and Alcohol Use among Pregnant Women 1985–2016: Evidence from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,” was co-authored by Amy A. Mericle, PhD; Meenakshi S. Subbaraman, PhD, MS; Sue Thomas, PhD; Ryan D. Treffers, JD; Kevin L. Delucchi, PhD; and William C. Kerr, PhD. It was published in Women’s Health Issues Volume 29, Issue 3 (May/June 2019).

The authors used 1985-2016 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System on pregnant women’s alcohol use and identified any alcohol consumption, any binge drinking, and heavy drinking reported by pregnant respondents. They examined the relationship between alcohol use and two kinds of state policies: 1) supportive policies, such as mandatory warning signs, priority substance abuse treatment for pregnant women, and prohibitions on criminal prosecution of those who disclose alcohol use during pregnancy, and 2) punitive policies, such as civil commitment of those using alcohol while pregnant, mandatory reporting to Child Protective Services, and considering alcohol use during pregnancy to be a form of child abuse or neglect.

Roberts and her colleagues found both supportive and punitive policy environments to be associated with an increased odds of any alcohol use during pregnancy, although not with binge or heavy drinking. Noting that other research has found state policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy to lead to decreased use of prenatal care and increased adverse birth outcomes, they caution, “These findings do not indicate that there is a set of evidence-based policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy that policymakers should adopt ... new policy approaches may be needed to meaningfully decrease alcohol use during pregnancy and related public health harms.”

Women’s Health Issues is the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, which is based in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University.

“The Editorial Board congratulates Sarah Roberts and her colleagues for conducting a methodologically strong study on an important public health policy topic,” said Amita Vyas, Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health Issues and associate professor of prevention and community health at Milken Institute SPH. “We hope lawmakers will pay attention to their findings, and consider that policies intended to reduce alcohol consumption during pregnancy might cause harm while failing to achieve their stated goals.”

The Editorial Board also designated three 2019 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 include:

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.