Steve Harvey

Steve Harvey

Assistant Professor

Departmental Affiliation(s):

International Health (Primary)
Division: Social and Behavioral Interventions

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street
Room E5030
Baltimore , Maryland   21205



MHS, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2000
PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2006


As global health professionals, we see disease control and prevention – or health promotion if you want to take a broader view – as our paramount concern. We’re often a bit shocked to find, when we introduce a health intervention, that for our intended beneficiaries health is only one of many concerns. We compete with people's need to keep a roof over their heads, keep food on the table, pay for children’s school fees and supplies, and much more. The competition intensifies when our intervention frames health as a specific behavior we want people to practice such as sleeping under a mosquito net or getting tested for HIV. Then everything from peer pressure to infrastructure to climate plays a role. The history of public health – and of development in general – is littered with technologically or epidemiologically brilliant interventions that failed because their promoters ignored social, economic, or political context. As a social scientist, I’m more interested in the interplay between intervention and context, and how this interplay affects success, than in any particular disease or condition.  Research interests That said, the study of interplay between intervention and context must, itself, take place in a context. My principal contexts to date have been malaria and maternal health. My initial malaria research focused on determining the characteristics of a culturally appropriate insecticide-treated bed net (ITN) in the Peruvian Amazon. I’ve continued work on ITNs in Peru, Benin and Ghana, and recently began a collaboration in Uganda with NetWorks through the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. Working with the World Health Organization, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, and the Zambia National Malaria Control Center, I helped develop training materials that enable community health workers to use malaria rapid diagnostic tests safely and effectively. My interests also include malaria in pregnancy. In maternal health, my principal focus has been testing the clinical competency of skilled birth attendants (SBAs) and improving the cultural competency of labor and delivery care. More recent interests include factors that influence the adoption of new health technologies, prevention of Chagas disease, and mobile health. Methods Though my research includes quantitative approaches, my focus is more qualitative. I am a particular proponent of observation since I find it is often more accurate than relying on reported behavior (interviews) and captures a level of detail that is not possible using other methods.

Research Interests

Malaria, Maternal Health, Qualitative Research, Behavioral Research, Diagnostics


  • Harvey SA, Paredes Olórtegui M, Leontsini E, Ramal Asayag C, Scott K, and Winch P. 2013. Trials of improved practices (TIPs): a strategy for making long-lasting nets last longer? Am J Trop Med Hyg. 88(6): 1109-1115.
  •   Harvey SA, Paredes Olórtegui M, Leonstini E, and Winch P. 2009. “They’ll change what they’re doing if they know that you’re watching”: Measuring reactivity in health behavior due to an observer’s presence – A case from the Peruvian Amazon. Field Methods. 21(1): 3-25.
  •   Harvey SA, Paredes Olórtegui M, Leontsini E, Bustamante Pezo CD, Olórtegui Pezantes LM, and Winch PJ. 2008. The whole world will be able to see us’: Determining the characteristics of a culturally appropriate bed net among mestizo communities of the Peruvian Amazon. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 79(6): 834-838.
  • Harvey SA, Jennings L, Chinyama M, Masaninga F, Mulholland K, and Bell D. 2008. Improving community health worker use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests in Zambia: package instructions, a job aid, and job aid-plus-training. Malaria Journal. 7:160 (August 22).   
  • Harvey SA, Wong Blandon YC, Evans C, Sandino I, Urbina L, Rodríguez C, Gómez I, Ayabaca P, Djibrina S, McCaw-Binns, A. 2007. Are skilled birth attendants really skilled? A measurement method, some disturbing results, and a potential way forward. Bull World Health Organ. 85(10): 783-90.