Shivani is a postdoctoral research scholar in the Halpern-Felsher Lab in Adolescent Medicine. Shivani uses mixed-methods experimental and implementation research to develop and evaluate real-world public health education programs and methodologies that lead to healthy behaviors. Her current research focuses on three key areas:

(1) Assessing youth patterns of use and perceptions about electronic cigarettes, new tobacco products and other substances;
(2) Understanding why youth use e-cigarettes vapes as a means to cope with stress and manage mental health problems, such as depression; and
(3) Evaluating school-based educational interventions to reduce e-cigarette use.

In addition to research, Shivani enjoys teaching research methods and mentoring high school and college students.

Through her Ph.D., Shivani developed and evaluated an arts-based educational program to reduce mental-health-related stigma in India. The program had a large, significant and positive effect on participants - they desired greater social proximity to people living with mental health problems. During this time, she also became interested in the intersection between mental health and substance use, a common theme in her interactions with youth. She also refined her skills in statistical analysis, study design and project management. Her interdisciplinary Ph.D. research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was supported by the PHFI-UKC Wellcome Trust Capacity Strengthening Award (2014-18). In 2017, she received the LSHTM Public Engagement Small Grant to strengthen school teachers? understanding of mental health problems, which resulted in a monthly column in a popular educational magazine, reaching approximately 40,000 Indian teachers every month.

Previously, Shivani designed, implemented and evaluated health communication and behavior change initiatives at the Public Health Foundation of India from 2008-2014. She is especially passionate about designing educational public health programs to break silences around contentious public health issues, using participatory media and entertainment-education. At PHFI, she spearheaded health communication and community engagement programs aimed at changing behavior related to healthy lifestyles, sexual and reproductive health, maternal and neonatal care, menstrual hygiene, avoidable blindness and mental health. In partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and community-based organizations, she led three educational interventions: a community awareness campaign, which improved treatment-seeking behavior for mental disorders in underserved areas; a website targeting young people to improve their lifestyle; and entertainment-education-based participatory action research to improve sexual and reproductive health.

Institute Affiliations

  • Member, Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI)

Honors & Awards

  • Chhatra Pratibha Puruskar, Hindi Academy, Government of Delhi, India (2001)
  • Vinod Dikshit Award for Research (Plants in the world of medicine), Vinod Dikshit Foundation (2002)
  • Emerald Literati Network Award for Excellence - Outstanding Paper Award, Emerald Publishing (2015-2016)
  • Queen?s Young Leaders Runner-Up Award, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust with Comic Relief and the University of Cambridge. (2015-2016)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Member, Information Education and Communication Committee on Developing a Menstrual Hygiene Program, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (2011 - 2012)
  • Member, National Diabetic Retinopathy Taskforce, Indian Institute of Public Health- Hyderabad (2014 - 2016)
  • Member, Editorial Board, Community Eye Health Journal of South Asia, Indian Institute of Public Health-Hyderabad with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK (2016 - 2018)
  • Adjunct Fellow, Public Health Foundation of India ( (2019 - Present)

Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Arts, Lady Shri Ram College for Women (2006)
  • Master of Science, School of Oriental & African Studies (2007)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University Of London (2019)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • Actor-doctor partnership for theatre-based public health education HEALTH EDUCATION JOURNAL Sharma, K., Gaiha, S., Pati, S., Sarabhai, M. 2020
  • School-based e-cigarette education in Alabama: Impact on knowledge of e-cigarettes, perceptions and intent to try. Addictive behaviors Gaiha, S. M., Duemler, A., Silverwood, L., Razo, A., Halpern-Felsher, B., Walley, S. C. 2020; 112: 106519


    BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Educational programs are needed to combat the sharp rise in adolescent e-cigarette use. We assessed adolescent knowledge about e-cigarettes, perceptions of harmfulness and addictiveness and intent to try e-cigarettes before and after an e-cigarette educational session.METHODS: We conducted a one-group pre- and post-test study among middle and high school students in Alabama in 2019. The intervention included a 30-minute educational session based on the Stanford Tobacco Prevention Toolkit on e-cigarette types, contents, marketing and advertising, health effects and nicotine addiction. McNemar tests of paired proportions and multi-level, mixed-effects logistic regression models were used to analyze intervention effects.RESULTS: Surveys were completed by 2,889 middle and high school students. The intervention was associated with significantly increased knowledge about e-cigarettes and perceptions that e-cigarettes are harmful and addictive, and with significantly lower intent to try e-cigarettes. At pre-test, middle school students had lower knowledge, believed that e-cigarettes were not as addictive and showed higher intent to try both e-cigarettes and cigarettes compared to high school students. Groups that were associated with lower perceived harmfulness and addictiveness were: ever-users of e-cigarettes, ever-users of both e-cigarettes and cigarettes and prior users of mint/menthol flavored e-cigarettes.CONCLUSIONS: A school-based educational session was significantly associated with improved adolescent knowledge about e-cigarettes, increased the perceived harmfulness and addictiveness of e-cigarettes, and reduced intent to try e-cigarettes. E-cigarette education should be prioritized for middle school students due to lower levels of knowledge and higher intent to try tobacco compared to high school students.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106519

    View details for PubMedID 32890911

  • Public Health Considerations for Adolescent Initiation of Electronic Cigarettes. Pediatrics Gaiha, S. M., Halpern-Felsher, B. 2020; 145 (Suppl 2): S175?S180


    Adolescent use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has increased dramatically, with younger and nicotine-naive adolescents starting to use these devices and use them more frequently than combustible cigarettes. In emerging evidence, it is shown that e-cigarettes are not effective in helping adult smokers quit and that youth using e-cigarettes are at risk for becoming nicotine dependent and continuing to use as adults. Important gaps in our knowledge remain regarding the long-term health impact of e-cigarettes, effective strategies to prevent and reduce adolescent e-cigarette use, and the impact of provider screening and counseling to address this new method of nicotine use.

    View details for DOI 10.1542/peds.2019-2056E

    View details for PubMedID 32358208

  • Escalating Safety Concerns Are Not Changing Adolescent E-Cigarette Use Patterns: The Possible Role of Adolescent Mental Health. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine Gaiha, S. M., Halpern-Felsher, B. 2020; 66 (1): 3?5

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.10.008

    View details for PubMedID 31866056

  • Physical Activity Among Adolescents in India: A Qualitative Study of Barriers and Enablers HEALTH EDUCATION & BEHAVIOR Satija, A., Khandpur, N., Satija, S., Gaiha, S., Prabhakaran, D., Reddy, K., Arora, M., Narayan, K. 2018; 45 (6): 926?34


    Inadequate physical activity (PA) levels are reported in Indian youth, with lowest levels among adolescents, particularly girls. We aimed to identify barriers to and enablers of PA among school children in New Delhi and examine potential differences by gender and school type (government vs. private). A total of 174 students (private school students = 88, 47% girls; government school students = 86, 48% girls) aged 12 to 16 years from two Delhi schools participated in 16 focus group discussions (FGDs) conducted by bilingual moderators. We conducted FGDs separately for girls and boys, for students in Grades VIII and IX, and for private and government schools. We conducted FGDs among government school students in Hindi and translated the transcriptions to English for analysis. We coded transcriptions using a combination of inductive and deductive approaches, guided by the "youth physical activity promotion model." We identified various personal, social, and environmental barriers and enablers. Personal barriers: Private school girls cited body image-related negative consequences of PA participation. Social barriers: Girls from both schools faced more social censure for participating in PA. Environmental barriers: Reduced opportunity for PA in schools was commonly reported across all participants. Personal enablers: All participants reported perceived health benefits of PA. Social enablers: Several participants mentioned active parents and sports role models as motivators for increasing PA. Few environmental enablers were identified. This study highlights the need for further investment in physical activity within schools and for gender-sensitive policies for encouraging PA participation among adolescents in India.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1090198118778332

    View details for Web of Science ID 000452478900009

    View details for PubMedID 29969921

  • Global treatment costs of breast cancer by stage: A systematic review PLOS ONE Sun, L., Legood, R., dos-Santos-Silva, I., Gaiha, S., Sadique, Z. 2018; 13 (11): e0207993


    Published evidence on treatment costs of breast cancer varies widely in methodology and a global systematic review is lacking.This study aimed to conduct a systematic review to compare treatment costs of breast cancer by stage at diagnosis across countries at different levels of socio-economic development, and to identify key methodological differences in costing approaches.MEDLINE, EMBASE, and NHS Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED) before April 2018.Studies were eligible if they reported treatment costs of breast cancer by stage at diagnosis using patient level data, in any language.Study characteristics and treatment costs by stage were summarised. Study quality was assessed using the Drummond Checklist, and detailed methodological differences were further compared.Twenty studies were included, 15 from high-income countries and five from low- and middle-income countries. Eleven studies used the FIGO staging system, and the mean treatment costs of breast cancer at Stage II, III and IV were 32%, 95%, and 109% higher than Stage I. Five studies categorised stage as in situ, local, regional and distant. The mean treatment costs of regional and distant breast cancer were 41% and 165% higher than local breast cancer. Overall, the quality of studies ranged from 50% (lowest quality) to 84% (highest). Most studies used regression frameworks but the choice of regression model was rarely justified. Few studies described key methodological issues including skewness, zero values, censored data, missing data, and the inclusion of control groups to estimate disease-attributable costs.Treatment costs of breast cancer generally increased with the advancement of the disease stage at diagnosis. Methodological issues should be better handled and properly described in future costing studies.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0207993

    View details for Web of Science ID 000451325700098

    View details for PubMedID 30475890

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6258130

  • 'No time for health:' exploring couples' health promotion in Indian slums. Health promotion international Gaiha, S. M., Gillander Gådin, K. 2018


    Joint involvement of couples is an effective strategy to increase contraceptive use and improve reproductive health of women. However, engaging couples to understand how their gender attitudes affect their personal and family health is an idea in search of practice. This mixed-methods study explores opportunities and barriers to couples' participation in health promotion in three slums of Delhi. For each couple, surveys and semi-structured interviews were conducted with husbands and wives individually to contrast self and spousal work, time, interest in health, sources of information related to health and depth of knowledge (n?=?62). Urban poverty forces men to work long hours and women to enter part-time work in the informal sector. Paid work induces lack of availability at home, lack of interest in health information and in performing household chores and a self-perception of being healthy among men. These factors inhibit men's' participation in community-based health promotion activities. Women's unpaid work in the household remains unnoticed. Women were expected to be interested in and to make time to attend community-based health-related activities. Men recalled significantly less sources of health information than their spouse. Men and their wives showed similar depth of health-related knowledge, likely due to their spousal communication, with women acting as gatekeepers. Health promotion planners must recognize time constraints, reliance on informal interpersonal communication as a source of health information and the need to portray positive masculinities that address asymmetric gender relations. Innovative, continuous and collaborative approaches may support couples to proactively care about health in low-resource settings.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/heapro/day101

    View details for PubMedID 30590523

  • Is India's policy framework geared for effective action on avoidable blindness from diabetes? Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism Gaiha, S. M., Shukla, R., Gilbert, C. E., Anchala, R., Gudlavalleti, M. V. 2016; 20 (Suppl 1): S42?50


    The growing burden of avoidable blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy (DR) needs an effective and holistic policy that reflects mechanisms for early detection and treatment of DR to reduce the risk of blindness.We performed a comprehensive health policy review to highlight the existing systemic issues that enable policy translation and to assess whether India's policy architecture is geared to address the mounting challenge of DR. We used a keyword-based Internet search for documents available in the last 15 years. Two reviewers independently assessed retrieved policies and extracted contextual and program-oriented information and components delineated in national policy documents. Using a "descriptive analytical" method, the results were collated and summarized as per themes to present status quo, gaps, and recommendations for the future.Lack of focus on building sustainable synergies that require well laid out mechanisms for collaboration within and outside the health sector and poor convergence between national health programs appears to be the weakest links across policy documents.To reasonably address the issues of consistency, comprehensiveness, clarity, context, connectedness, and sustainability, policies will have to rely more strongly on evidence from operational research to support decisions. There is a need to involve multiple stakeholders from multiple sectors, recognize contributions from not-for-profit sector and private health service providers, and finally bring about a nuanced holistic perspective that has a voice with implementable multiple sector actions.

    View details for DOI 10.4103/2230-8210.179773

    View details for PubMedID 27144136

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4847449

  • Enhancing mental health literacy in India to reduce stigma: the fountainhead to improve help-seeking behaviour JOURNAL OF PUBLIC MENTAL HEALTH Gaiha, S., Sunil, G., Kumar, R., Menon, S. 2014; 13 (3): 146-+

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