Research Projects

The Role of Cross-Border Medical Travel in Shaping Retired Americans’ Health Care Access and Decisions (2012-2015)

In response to limited medical coverage in the US, some Winter Texans (retirees who live at least one month in Texas) have begun to cross into Mexico for lower cost pharmaceuticals, dental care, primary care, and surgery. The study will provide an ethnographic account of the practice, how it is used, health insurance implications, and the impact on senior health. It will be conducted in McAllen, Texas and Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. Research will consist of participant observation at two mobile parks in McAllen and through accompanying Winter Texans seeking medical care in Mexico. Additional information will be gathered through Winter Texans’ illness diaries, free listing, and semi-structured interviews with Mexican medical providers, US medical providers, and Winter Texans.


Social and Cultural Influences on Birth Outcomes in Winnebago County, IL (2012-2013)

Within Winnebago County, Illinois African-American mothers have poorer birth outcomes than any other racial/ethnic group. Moreover, they are less likely to have prenatal care in the first trimester, which has been linked to low-birth-weight births, premature births, infant mortality, and maternal mortality. This project will explore the disproportionate amount of LBW/premature births within the African-American community through providing ethnographic data on the prenatal care available to African-American women along with their usage and perceptions of the care they receive. The study will also try to identify if there are any differences in the medical and social experiences between African-American, Hispanic, and Caucasian women who have LBW/premature children and those who do not. Data will be collected through interviews with health care providers, longitudinal case studies of African-American women and postpartum interviews with Caucasian, Hispanic, and African-American women. The goal of the project is to identify what cultural and social factors influence access to and usage of prenatal care along with the social/community support available to women in Winnebago County. 

For more information: Prenatal Care in Winnebago County


From Milwaukee to Mexico: Usage of Foreign Medical Services by Migrants, Milwaukee, WI  (2010-2012)

Previous research illustrates that medical migrants travel from Milwaukee and other Midwestern cities to Mexico for medical care. This pilot study explores medical provider knowledge of this practice, possible dangers, and health policy implications involved. Methods include semi-structured interviews with physicians, nurses, and medical support staff in the Milwaukee metropolitan area.


Medical Migrants in the US/Mexico Borderlands, McAllen, TX (2008-2010)

This study examined medical migration, briefly defined as the movement of people across borders for health care. It was conducted along the United States-Mexico border, focusing on the impacts that medial migration has on the health care system, patient practices, and quality of medical care in the area. Methods include participant observation in medical clinics, hospitals and RV parks along the border; interviewing doctors, patients, NGOs, and medical tourism facilitators; accompanying patients as they sought medical care in Mexico; and surveying patients about health care beliefs and practices. This project is important because it expands upon the previous research on medical migration to examine how health care inequalities, poverty, and state policies influence individual health care decisions and options. The National Science Foundation funded the project.


A Pill for Me An Herb for You: Acceptance or Rejection of Medicalization Among College Students, Starkville, MS (2004-2005)

The study examined college students at Mississippi State University to establish usage habits and beliefs regarding nonvitamin, nonmineral supplements. Methods included collecting life-histories of students; interviewing physicians; documenting health care narratives; surveying five classrooms; and archival research of supplement usage in the United States.