Deborah E. Bender
Director, Undergraduate Program
Deborah E. Bender is a Fellow Emeritus at the Carolina Population Center.
Deborah Bender is the director of Health Policy and Administration's undergraduate program and is a public health anthropologist whose research and practice focuses on improving the quality of services to women and children through systems interventions and development of interdisciplinary teams in health settings. An interest in understanding the interaction between the formal and informal health care sectors and improving communication between providers and clients is an underlying theme in her work. She has planned and evaluated reproductive health services in periurban and rural settings in Latin America, Liberia, and Indonesia. Her principal geographic focus is in the Andean region of South America, and she has also worked in Liberia, West Africa, and Indonesia on community-based issues. In Bolivia, where she has concentrated her work during the past decade, she has received support from the World Health Organization for research on exclusive breast-feeding and child spacing and to implement and evaluate a demonstration project to promote more appropriate use of prenatal care and related reproductive health services in periurban communities. Bender currently is conducting two parallel action research studies on quality of reproductive health care from the users' perspectives in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and in North Carolina with recently arrived Latina women from Mexico and Central America. In the United States, Bender is working with Latino populations, applying lessons learned from research in Third World environments to similar settings in North Carolina. Currently, she is studying immigration transitions, social support and the use of preventive health services among Latinos in North Carolina The data is being collected in churches, using a linked model of quantitative and qualitative methods. Latina women respond to a survey and then are invited to participate in creating photo narratives depicting mechanisms of support during their transition to a new country setting.