Ashley Grosso

In Funded Scholars
Ashley Grosso




Research Scientist

Professional Bio

In my current position I am involved in evaluations of a video series to increase information-seeking about pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention, an interactive website to increase effective contraception choice and use, a health care coordination intervention for low-income individuals who are not eligible for health insurance, and a school- and community-based nutrition intervention with families of children between pre-kindergarten and first grade. I am an investigator for a variety of studies including an assessment of Latina women’s understanding of pregnancy intention screening questions in primary care settings, and the development of a blueprint for enhancing the system of post-enrollment assistance with using health insurance in New York state. My research has been presented at conferences including the International AIDS Society Conference, the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa, the Eastern Evaluation Research Society Conference, the Public Performance Measurement and Reporting Network Conference, the American Society for Public Administration Conference, the Public Management Research Association Conference, and the Northeast Conference on Public Administration. I am the founder and executive director of the AIDS Museum, which aims to educate people about HIV through visual arts. I was previously a research program manager in the key populations program of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I completed a six-month Allan Rosenfield Public Policy Fellowship at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research in 2011. At Rutgers University I was a research assistant for the CivicPanel online survey research project and also taught courses in Citizen Surveys and Reporting, Transparency and E-Governance, and Budgeting for Performance. From 2006-2007 I was the assistant director of the Center for Community Research and Engagement at Seton Hall University, where I coordinated service learning and community-based research projects.

Project Description

Evidence is mixed on whether school sex education promotes adolescent sexual health. This study explores state-level sex education policies, funding, and implementation in the U.S. It examines the relationships between these indicators and behaviors and outcomes including teen pregnancies, births, abortions, and HIV and sexually transmitted infection diagnoses. I am using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, School Health Profiles, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, and Guttmacher Institute. Secondary data analyses of panel data using StataSE 14 and Mplus will include exploratory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and multivariable regression.

This study is related to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health action area Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration to Improve Well-Being. The project examines one of the drivers of this action area, “Investment in Cross-sector Collaboration”, through evaluating federal funding allocations for sex education. Through assessing the relationship between funding levels for sex and abstinence education and policies, implementation, behaviors and outcomes, the research contributes toward the Culture of Health Framework’s goal to leverage current resources and ultimately reduce national health care costs over time. This study also considers a second driver, “Policies that Support Collaboration”, by assessing state-level sex education policies. Additionally, one of the measures of cross-sector collaboration, “Opportunities to Improve Health for Youth at Schools”, is a primary focus of this research. Recognizing that students’ knowledge about sexual health may vary by state (depending on the policies, funding and implementation of sex education), this project contributes toward the evidence base with an aim of fostering more equitable environments that make healthy choices regarding sexual behaviors possible. Further, this research focuses on health equity by examining the relationship between structural determinants of health, risk behaviors and outcomes disaggregated by sex, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation where possible.

My New Connections Experience

I applied for New Connections because I was the first person in my immediate family obtain a university degree. I was eligible for a Pell grant in college and grew up in a low-income rural community. I was interested in the opportunity to meet with other researchers who faced educational and economic challenges.

Research Interests

I am a social scientist with primarily quantitative research experience in HIV epidemiology and prevention and reproductive health studies in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Lesotho, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, and Togo. My research has focused on stigmatized populations at high risk including men who have sex with men and female sex workers. I am particularly interested in adolescent health and have conducted analyses of sex education in urban public high schools, differences between adolescent and adult contraception preferences, and the age of initiation of risks and vulnerabilities including alcohol use, sexual debut, and selling sex. With my academic training in public administration, I have also completed research on the determinants, effectiveness, and equity of funding for HIV-related services in the United States and internationally.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2016
  • Project Name: Policies, funding allocations, and implementation of school-based sex education and adolescent sexual health and health equity

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