UW Population Health Pilot Research Grant

We propose to leverage a richly interdisciplinary collaboration to conduct the first rigorous, national study of the growing use of medical crowdfunding (MCF) and its impacts on health disparities in the US. As Americans
increasingly turn to sites like to finance essential healthcare costs, research on how MCF might interact with, and fuel, health and social disparities has been almost nonexistent – in part because data on MCF is privately held by platforms. We aim to harness expertise across 6 disciplines at UW – epidemiology, GIS, data science, computer science, medical anthropology, and media studies – to develop tools for collecting MCF data and conduct a robust, mixed-methods analysis of US MCF campaigns. We hypothesize that: 1) MCF use is fueled by geographic disparities in poverty, education, and access to healthcare and social safety nets; and 2) MCF success (which enables access to health care) is related to numerous social, health, and technological disparities. We will use computer science tools to collect data from the MCF site Gofundme, and then analyze it using geospatial and statistical analysis. Health and sociodemographic data from other sources will be leveraged to conduct this analysis. Targeted ethnographic interviewing and analysis will provide further context for how gender, race, age, and health condition impact MCF user experiences. Public dissemination of findings will be targeted to policy experts in the health and technology fields, with the aim of developing policy and public education initiatives that will make MCF more equitable for all who need it.

Grant Info


Bree Norlander

Start Date

Jan 1, 2019