Research Spotlight: Sofia Oviedo

A common question that we often get asked is what research and opportunities current students are involved with. Through this series, we hope to highlight different research and internship opportunities that students are involved with.

By: Sofia Oviedo, MPH’23 in Epidemiology

Name: Sofia Oveido

Department: Department of Epidemiology

Program: MPH in Epidemiology

Certificate Program: Social Determinants of Health

Tell us about your research.

This research is my thesis, which will complete the Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) requirement set by Rollins. My thesis is called “Access to Telehealth and Changes in Diabetes Care Patterns Pre and Post the COVID-19 Pandemic – Evidence from a Large Integrated Healthcare System.” The COVID-19 pandemic affected access to care for many people and triggered a shift to telemedicine. I’m curious about who has access to telehealth and how completion of important diabetes care perhaps changed compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. The data I’m using is from Kaiser Permanente Georgia. My data consists of members with prevalent diabetes who were enrolled from 2018 to 2021. I’ll analyze this data using longitudinal data analysis techniques.

How did you find this research opportunity?

I found this opportunity through my current job through the Rollins Earn and Learn (REAL) Program with the Health Services Research Center at the Emory School of Medicine. My thesis advisor is an Assistant Professor and epidemiologist who conducts research on the research team we’re both on. I was able to connect with them by expressing my interest in exploring the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with diabetes accessing care.

What are the aims of your research project?

I have two aims for this project. I aim to:
1) examine disparities in access to telehealth among people with diabetes before and during the COVID-19 pandemic by race, age and gender
2) compare adherence to diabetes care guidelines by time period (post vs pre COVID-19 pandemic)

Why is this research significant?

Telehealth utilization increased to levels previously unseen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although more diabetes patients utilized telehealth to receive healthcare than before the pandemic, disparities in accessibility persist, and more research is needed to identify the specific groups with reduced access, and the impact on diabetes care and management. Further research in these topics have the potential to identify driving forces of inaccessibility, close the gaps in accessibility, and inform care recommendations for people diagnosed with diabetes in a post COVID-19 era.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered while doing this research?

Balancing work, classes, and a social life while completing a thesis has been a bit tricky. Time management is a must when working on a thesis. Additionally, my research questions have pivoted multiple times before coming to these final aims. Being flexible and keeping an open mind has been an important part of working on this research.

Any advice for students looking to do research?

Be passionate about a research topic or area. When you inevitably hit barriers, the passion and drive you have for your research topic  will help you push through. Additionally, find a faculty member that aligns with your research interests. Don’t be afraid to send that cold email. One of the great things about Emory is that faculty are very willing to collaborate with students.

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