Elizabeth Janiak is an interdisciplinary researcher with expertise in sociology, epidemiology, and health systems research. Her research traces how public and institutional policies perpetuate inequities in access to and quality of sexual and reproductive health care including contraceptive, abortion, and obstetric services. As an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Director of Social Science Research at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, Dr. Janiak directs a multidisciplinary research portfolio and mentors and teaches undergraduate, medical, and public health students, as well as postdoctoral physician trainees.
Dr. Janiak graduated summa cum laude with a BA in the Comparative Study of Religion from Harvard College, and matriculated as a Henry M. MacCracken Fellow in the doctoral program in American Studies at New York University, from which she earned an MA before switching fields to public health. She later completed an MSc in Society, Human Development, and Health and ScD in Social and Behavioral Sciences, both from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Janiak received postdoctoral training at Brigham and Women's Hospital. She is a former recipient of the Society of Family Planning Research Fund’s Junior Investigator Award and the Shore Fellowship for Scholars in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research program is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and several private foundations.
Dr. Janiak's research explores how public policy and health system characteristics affect the availability and quality of abortion and contraceptive care in the United States, with a particular focus on how disparities in access to these services are driven by social inequality along axes of age, race, gender, ability, disease status, and socioeconomic class. Her content expertise is particularly strong in the following areas: integration of sexual and reproductive health services into primary care, best practices for expanding use of mifepristone for abortion and early pregnancy loss, abortion stigma and its effect on patients and providers, the impact of state-level abortion restrictions on health outcomes, and access to postpartum contraception. Dr. Janiak's research utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods, particularly survey research, analysis of administrative data, and person-centered qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews and focus groups. Her work has been cited in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's landmark report, The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States, as well as in dozens of media outlets. Her study of the impact of Massachusetts's parental consent law for abortion was cited in legislative testimony and in multiple editorials calling for the law's repeal, including The Boston Globe.
Dr. Janiak previously served as the manager of the statewide sexual health hotline based at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and as a case manager facilitating second trimester abortion access for women with complex medical and social needs. She is co-investigator of PICCK, Massachusetts' program to improve contraceptive care quality and access in birth hospitals.