CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA 2016 Annual Meeting & Expo

Maternal and Child Health

Meeting theme: Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health

Submission Deadline: Friday, March 4, 2016

2016 Call for Abstracts

The Maternal and Child Health Section is interested in receiving abstracts pertaining to research, evaluation, evidence-based programs, and policies in the following areas, several with specific priorities given to this year's conference theme “Building the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health.”

This year the MCH section has a special focus on Addressing Health Inequities. We encourage abstract submissions to this special call and also to one of our committees below if their specific focus is aligned with your project.

The MCH Section’s Equity Work Group was established in 2015 to address profound inequalities in health outcomes among maternal and child populations due to racism in the United States. The Work Group has adopted a broad definition of racism as “ a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on phenotype (“race”) that unfairly disadvantages some while unfairly advantaging others”  (Jones, 2000). While concerned with all forms of social marginalization and discrimination, the Work Group focuses on racism because of its unique place in the social and cultural underpinning of inequality United States.

While the Work Group encourages a focus on health equity and social justice in submissions in all MCH topical areas, this year for the first time we invite abstracts that focus directly on racism, equity, social justice  and inequality in relation to MCH policies, practices and outcomes. Of particular interest are abstracts which:

  • Offer new insights into the ways that social inequality results in maternal and child health inequity (e.g.,  the role of racism in differential rates of childhood obesity);
  • Highlight new or emerging  approaches to maternal and child health inequity that incorporate an explicitly anti-racist focus (e.g., community organizing to influence the social determinants of maternal and child health);
  • Offer opportunities for cross committee and/or cross-section sponsorship (e.g., the interaction of climate change and racism in shaping maternal and child health outcomes). 
  • Adolescent & Young Adult Health
    The Adolescent and Young Adult Health Committee believes creating the healthiest nation requires helping our adolescents and young adults grow into the next generation of change agents for health equity. Our committee invites abstracts addressing health equity and social justice matters for our populations of interest. We are especially interested in:
    • - Approaches to youth health promotion that are asset-based or informed by Positive Youth Development;
    • - Collaborations with youth in high school, college, and special populations (e.g., foster care) to promote health equity and/or social justice change or policies;
    • - Youth addressing social justice concerns around key health equity areas (e.g., environmental justice, food justice);
    • - High-school-to-college health career pipelines and programs to increase the number of historically underrepresented minority students in public health and related health professions;
    • - Youth-centered approaches for immigration, refugee, and migration issues;
    • - Youth involved in public health policy development, oversight, and assurance (e.g., program, organizational, and governmental policy and/or governance/leadership).
  • Childcare
    The MCH Child Care Committee is seeking abstracts that promote the conference theme, " Building the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health", with an emphasis on health and safety as a component of quality child care. Specific topics include but are not limited to: access to affordable, high-quality child care; improving social and physical child care environments through health and safety standards and child care health consultation; and the role of child care in promoting the physical and mental health of all children, including those with special needs.
  • Children with Special Health Care Needs
    The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section Children with Special Health Care Needs Committee invites abstracts on surveillance, evaluation, research, public health practice, programs and policy on children with special health care needs (e.g., asthma, autism, ADHD, birth defects, disabilities, developmental delays). Content on right to health care, epidemiology, identification and referral, screening, care coordination, health service use, access to care, quality of life, outcomes, service delivery and quality, transition to adulthood, and/or prevention will be considered.
  • Epidemiology & Data
    Data is essential to evaluate and inform programs and policies to promote health and wellness. The Data and Epidemiology Committee is interested in abstracts describing:

    • use of surveillance and/or program data to describe maternal and child health outcomes
    • evidence-based evaluations of programs and policies targeting MCH population
    • application of MCH data across various settings, i.e., community-based, state, national, and international settings
    • Abstract submissions related to longitudinal or multilevel modeling, the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods, and data translation and application for public health action in MCH are also welcomed.
  • Genetics & Bioethics
    As genomic advances play an increasing role in maternal, newborn, and child health services, it is vital that new technologies and current findings in this area are shared with the MCH community. The MCH Section is interested in receiving papers that address the individual and community perspectives related to emerging preconception, prenatal and neonatal screening as well as novel detection, diagnostic  and treatment options for early childhood conditions. We also value research investigating the ethical questions raised by these advances and strategies to improve equity of care and population-wide health improvement.
  • Health Services Research
    The primary goal of MCH Health services research (HSR) is to ensure that all women and children have access to and receive the best possible health care.  MCH health services researchers are at the forefront of work to identify the most effective ways to deliver high quality health care for all, reduce medical errors, and improve patient safety for women throughout their reproductive lives and children from conception to adulthood.  The MCH-HSR Section seeks studies on how social factors, personal behaviors, organizational factors and health policy affect access to health care, quality of and cost of healthcare, patient safety and ultimately the health and well-being of women, families and children.
  • Improving Pregnancy Outcomes
    Healthy pregnancies, mothers, children, and families are a global concern. From the life course perspective, the health of a newborn is determined, in part, by the life experiences of the baby's mother prior to and during pregnancy. The mother's own in utero experience, together with the cultural, political, environmental, medical, and psychosocial factors that have affected her health status over time (eg, access to nutritious food, air & water quality, access to health care and healthy environments, access to education and jobs, social support, daily stressors and traumatic events, etc.) can affect the health of her unborn child. The Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Committee is interested in research, policy, interventions and public health initiatives that take a holistic approach to understanding and promoting healthy pregnancy outcomes in a global context. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

    o The elimination of social disparities in adverse pregnancy outcomes (e.g., social determinants of health, the built environment, toxic exposures, food deserts, stress and mental health, cultural competency, diversity in the MCH workforce, community-based and faith-based initiatives, health care access, etc.) 

    o The importance  and impact of behavioral health and stress/stressors on optimal pregnancy outcomes, and interventions to reduce stress in pregnant women.

    o Racial and ethnic disparities and birth outcomes

    o The impact of incarceration on prenatal care and pregnancy outcomes.

    o The prevention of maternal mortality and morbidity

    o The politicization of childbearing in America and worldwide

    o Life course and ecological approaches and their implications for pregnancy outcomes (e.g., intergenerational factors, fetal programming, child development, teen pregnancy and adolescent health, pre- and inter-conception health, prenatal and post-partum care, primary care, oral health, health care reform, health behaviors, role of fathers and paternal health, social determinants, reproductive life planning, etc.). 

    Abstracts that directly address the conference theme and the topics of interest to the Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Committee will be given highest priority. However, we also welcome abstract submissions on cutting edge research, policy initiatives, and interventions that may not directly relate to the conference theme, but nevertheless address 21st century opportunities and challenges to promoting healthy pregnancy outcomes.

  • Infant & Child Health
    In keeping with the annual APHA meeting theme, abstracts are sought that pertain to ensuring the right to health for infants and children.  Research that examines the effects of interventions and policies at the level of the individual family, the neighborhood, and the larger community to promote children’s health, development and well-being is of particular interest. More generally, the committee also welcomes abstracts on central themes related to infant and child health and health disparities including but not limited to preconception health and health care, preterm birth, infant and child morbidity and mortality, fetal alcohol syndrome, birth defects research and surveillance, newborn hearing and metabolic screening, developmental screening, autism and developmental disabilities, neurobehavioral and mental health, parenting, and child development.
  • Innovations in Maternity Services
    The theme of the 2016 APHA Annual Meeting is “Building the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health.”  The everyday problems facing childbearing women and their families are made worse by the lack of access to care and the concerns about quality services. The shortages of maternity care providers in many communities make these problems almost unsolvable.  Increasing malpractice insurance costs negatively impacts the availability of care.  The actual cost of pregnancy and delivery to individual families is a real crisis at this time. 

    For this year’s program,  the Innovations in  Maternity Services committee  is  seeking papers on these issues of concern such as:  Maternal Mortality and Morbidity related to current childbearing practices, cesarean sections, vaginal birth after cesarean(VBAC), epidurals, induction, provider shortages, increasing malpractice cost, consumer insurance costs, decreasing insurance coverage, decreases in consumer options, cost saving innovations, and midwives.

    The committee welcomes research descriptions of programs or policy which encourage or limit women and childbearing families’ choices for birth options, innovative models of care.  The programs to be showcased should demonstrate  improving maternal outcomes,  new insurance strategies, support for providers, outreach clinics, creative solutions to access to care  including, midwifery care, out of hospital birth settings, birthing centers  and labor support or doulas. One of the goals of this committee is to educate and empower women to make their own choices which will ultimately lead to better outcomes in childbirth.  Current research or descriptions of programs, which address these issues on the local, state or nation levels, are encouraged.

  • International MCH
    Submissions that address new approaches to global maternal and child health issues are always welcome. Special consideration will be given to submissions addressing global maternal and child health from a life span approach - acknowledging the importance of health at all ages from birth through old age, and the effects of early events on later health. Child and adolescent health issues using a developmental approach and broader issues of women’s health as well as domestic violence and reproductive issues are encouraged.  Abstracts considering post-MDG priorities for MCH will also be welcomed since MCH goals are the MDGs least likely to be met.
  • Martha May Eliot Luncheon
  • Multi-level and Life Course Approaches to MCH
    Health is the result of multiple nested determinants, including genetic, biological, behavioral, social and economic contexts. The timing and sequences of these multilevel exposures and experiences across the life course influence the development of health and disease. Evidence has established strong links between adult health and childhood exposures ( i.e., the period from conception through adolescence). This knowledge places a high priority on understanding how context matters to health over the life course and how interventions can be used to promote health and mitigate adversity.  Abstracts focused on an examination of MCH issues using a multi-level determinants and/or life-course approach are invited.
  • Paternal Involvement in Pregnancy Outcomes
    Despite the fact that men are important to maternal and child health (MCH), men have not played a significant role in family planning, pregnancy or childbirth, nor have they had a place in reproductive health initiatives. A large body of research exists on a father’s influence on child health and development, but little is known regarding the role of the expectant father in pregnancy outcomes. There is a great need to develop evidence-based strategies to improve paternal involvement before, during, and between pregnancies, particularly in communities where paternal involvement has traditionally been low and pregnancy outcomes have been poor.  Abstracts related to this year’s conference theme might include:

    • Family planning and reproductive health initiatives targeted to males;
    • Best and promising practices to enhance paternal involvement in MCH;
    • Barriers to paternal involvement in research, policy and practice;
    • Preconception health care programs specific to males;
    • Innovative approaches to research, policy and clinical practice on paternal involvement in pregnancy;
    • A lifecourse perspective of paternal involvement in pregnancy outcomes;
    • Strategies to raise public awareness for the need to include men in MCH.
  • Perinatal & Women's Health
    A lifespan approach to women’s health implies that the health of women is informed by biological, social, and environmental exposures throughout life. Of interest is all women's health and reproductive health issues, with an emphasis on positive and negative lifecourse exposures including fetal, infant, and child exposures; environmental exposures; conflict (e.g., interpersonal violence, deployment and warfare, natural disasters); health care services; policies; stress and mental health indices; genetics; behaviors; and neighborhood quality. Outcomes of interest include health-promoting and health-compromising behaviors; health care access, utilization and coverage; stress and mental health; chronic and acute health conditions; healthy aging; STIs/HIV; abortion; contraceptive use; and unintended pregnancy. The experience of stigma, as an outcome and a correlate of health, is also of interest.
  • Policy & Finance in MCH
    Innovative efforts advance research, program, and policy development. Submissions for this topic area are expected to describe (and provide evidence for, where available) innovations within the field that could have important implications for maternal and/or child health. Collaborative submissions are encouraged but not required. Submissions should incorporate important elements of the research project, program or policy of interest, identify ways in which the effort is innovative in the field at this time, and note the potential significance of the effort if successfully conducted.
  • SIDS & Infant Mortality
    Committee members encourage 2016 APHA submissions that relate to the following topics:

    • Addressing infant mortality in times of economic downturns
    • Innovations and creative strategies in reducing preterm births, SIDS and infant mortality
    • Highlighting prevention programs with proven outcomes measures
    • Home Visiting/ Healthy Start program evaluations

     The committee welcomes submissions that focus on outcome measures and evaluations rather than program reports or descriptions.

  • Student Session
    The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section, in collaboration with the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health, seeks student research papers on a variety of topics related to MCH problems, policy, evaluation, and programs. The top five papers will be presented in the Greg Alexander Outstanding Student Papers session on Monday morning. These five top student authors will be honored at the Martha May Eliot Award Luncheon, also on Monday. Accepted papers not selected for the special session will be included in a student poster session or, as appropriate, in other sessions. Submissions should conform to the required APHA structure. First authors must be APHA student members who are working towards a degree at the time of submission. Advisors may be listed as coauthors; however, the student is expected to do the writing, analysis, and presentation. A partial stipend may be available, contingent upon availability of funds.
  • Violence Prevention Committee
    Violence Prevention in Families and Communities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Family Violence Prevention. Preventing family and community violence is essential to the promotion of wellness across the lifespan. Many disciplines contribute critical knowledge and perspectives to the use of theory, data, interventions, evaluation approaches, and policy development to family violence prevention and intervention efforts. By exploring these various efforts we can better prevent all forms of family violence across the lifespan, including child maltreatment, partner abuse, elder mistreatment, dating violence, and sibling abuse.  Community violence prevention programs of many kinds are also critical.   Submissions in any of these areas are of interest, and submissions exploring primary prevention programs are of particular interest.
Presentations using quantitative and/or qualitative methods are welcome. If you are interested in submitting a group of papers to be presented in a single session please contact the MCH Section Program Planners in advance.

Please read the dos and don’ts below. We received over 460 abstracts for the 2015 program; approximately 30% were accepted for oral presentation and another 30% were accommodated in poster sessions. Our cut off for inclusion into an oral session is an average rating of 8 or higher. Abstracts with lower scores are either waitlisted or placed in a poster session. Waitlisted abstracts are accommodated if there are openings due to withdrawals (most commonly from poster sessions). Final decisions about waitlisted abstracts are made by early August.

Please note that the MARCH 4, 2016 abstract submission deadline will NOT be extended. No new abstracts will be accepted after that date. Late submissions or FAX submissions will not be accepted.


  • All presenters must be Individual members of APHA in order to present; you need not be a member at the time of submission but if accepted the presenter must be an APHA member;
  • All presenters must register for the meeting; and
  • Abstracts cannot be presented or published in any journal prior to the APHA Annual Meeting.

NOTE ABOUT CONTACT INFORMATION: Because your contact information is discoverable (and remains in the APHA system for years into the future) we strongly recommend using employer or school contact information rather than your personal/home address.


  • Start early! You can start your submission before you have the entire abstract completed.
  • Proofread!
  • Recommended format: Background, Methods, Results, Conclusions (be sure to include results). Abstracts describing studies waiting to be conducted or not yet completed are scored lower as many times the work is not complete by the time of the meeting and someone else could have had your slot.
  • Only a 350 word abstract is required -Make clear the public heath significance or implications of your work (and its relevance to MCH)
  • Include your data – abstracts lacking data receive lower ratings


  • An abstract free of trade and/or commercial product names;
  • At least one MEASURABLE objective (“to understand” or “to learn” are not measurable objectives and compound objectives are not acceptable). Use ONLY the following Measurable Action Verbs: Explain, Demonstrate, Analyze, Formulate, Discuss, Compare, Differentiate, Describe, Name, Assess, Evaluate, Identify, Design, Define or List.
  • A signed Conflict of Interest (Disclosure) form with a relevant Biographical Qualification Statement.  BE SPECIFIC about how your experience and/or education qualify you to speak on your proposed topic.  Just saying that you are an expert in the field is NOT adequate. Example of acceptable biographical qualification statement: “I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple federally funded grants focusing on the epidemiology of drug abuse, HIV prevention and co-occurring mental and drug use disorders. Among my scientific interests has been the development of strategies for preventing HIV and STDs in out-of-treatment drug users.”
  • A list of over 30 areas will be provided online for you to choose from. You will be asked to choose at least one or up to 6 areas that your presentation will address.

Abstracts are judged on clarity of presentation, importance/originality, understanding and presentation of implications of findings, quality and description of subject matter including problem statement or hypothesis, quality and completeness of supporting data/philosophy, clarity and interest of presentation, methodology and contribution to the field of MCH. The highest rated abstracts, based on blinded peer review, are selected and placed in sessions according to the overall program plan for that year. Abstracts that include data based on completion of the study or project will have priority.

 Continuing Education Credit.  The MCH Section strives to achieve 100% approval for its sessions. Following these rules will help us continue to achieve that! APHA values the ability to provide continuing education credit to physicians, nurses, health educators, and those certified in public health at its annual meeting. Please complete all required information when submitting an abstract so members can claim credit for attending your session. These credits are necessary for members to keep their licenses and credentials.

Thank you for your assistance in making your session credit worthy. For program questions, contact the Program Planners listed below.


Program Planner Contact Information:

Kimberly Arcoleo, PhD, MPH
College of Nursing
Ohio State University
1585 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: 614-688-3734

Lesley Cottrell, PhD
Department of Pediatrics and Prevention Research Center
West Virginia University School of Medicine
One Medical Drive, PO Box 9214
Morgantown, WV 26506-9214
Phone: 304-293-1149