Elizabeth (Betsy) Tolley, PhD

Director & Senior Scientist, Behavioral, Epidemiological & Clinical Sciences

Betsy is a Senior Scientist and Director of the Behavioral, Epidemiological & Clinical Sciences Unit of FHI 360. Through her research, she has examined acceptability of and adherence to various sexual health, contraceptive and reproductive technologies, including new technologies such as HIV and/or multipurpose (MPT) vaginal rings, or development of a longer-acting injectable contraceptive, and existing technologies like implants and intra-uterine devices (IUD). An important focus of recent research has been on measurement of complex constructs that influence behavioral outcomes. For example, she conducted mixed-method research in parallel to a phase 2 microbicide safety trial in India to first develop scales (e.g., HIV risk perception, couple sexual communication, acceptability of product attributes) and then longitudinally assess their influence on consistent use. In a recent project, Betsy and her team used standard scale development approaches to develop and validate a set of tools aimed at screening and monitoring trial participants’ propensity to adhere to trial product use. These tools are currently being prospectively validated in several trials of new HIV and/or multipurpose prevention products.

She has also applied her understanding of how social and sexual contexts shape acceptability to develop and test messages and materials for potential microbicide introduction initiatives in Kenya. Recently, Betsy and her team participated in a multiphase project, guided by human-centered design (HCD) approaches, to develop next-generation contraceptive concepts based on end-user needs and preferences (http://futureofct.com). Her reflections on the project led to a report comparing HCD to more traditional social-behavioral research approaches (https://www.theimpt.org/documents/reports/Report-HCD-BSS-Research.pdf).

Betsy brings to FHI 360 experience in the training and use of qualitative research methods, including rapid appraisal and participatory techniques; application of quantitative research designs and measurement; a background in international economics; and over twenty-five years of experience living and working in developing countries. She has a PhD in Health Behavior from the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a MA in International Development from the Nitze School of International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University. Betsy speaks fluent French, has a working knowledge of Hindi/Urdu and Arabic and has conducted studies in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea, as well as Haiti, Egypt, Jordan and India.