- Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, PhD, MPH
- Audra Meadows, MD MPH
- Christina Gebel, MPH
Research Project Description
In 2020, the CDC reported a national maternal mortality rate of 17.4 per 100,000 live births; Black women have rates three times higher than other racial groups. Many of the leading causes for maternal deaths (and morbidity) are preventable. The maternal morbidity and mortality rates and associated disparities, as experienced disproportionately by Black women, is a human rights crisis in America. Our primary research question is: How has the growing awareness of the maternal crisis influenced women of color's perceptions of their risk, maternity care choices, and patient empowerment? We seek to understand this through a mixed methods approach consisting of both qualitative and quantitative methods including: interviews, focus groups and hospital discharge data among Black women of reproductive age, their male partners/fathers, doulas and delivering clinicians to assess: (1) the perceptions of the maternal morbidity and mortality statistics and disparities from both the patient and providers perspective and (2) the perceptions of strategies to address this crisis to provide opportunities to assist Black moms in moving from awareness of this data to empowerment during the pregnancy, delivery and postpartum periods. Science and medicine are just beginning to investigate the social determinants of maternal health and morbidity and how they intersect across disciplines. Thus, there is an urgent need to better understand and define them. With few studies that report the insights of Black women specifically; there is much to learn.
Recent policy enacted to address the disparity such as implicit bias training and cultural competency training do not account for the opinions of Black women and the community of providers working to save lives and implement the right solutions to this problem. We believe the right solution will include anti-racism work in maternity care to overcome systemic bias. We are curious to learn what Black women, fathers, doulas and providers can contribute to the conversation on birth equity and maternal health disparities.
Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, PhD, MPH
Ndidiamaka N. Amutah-Onukagha holds PhD in Public Health with a focus on Maternal and Child Health and an MPH. Her current research interests include maternal mortality and morbidity, health disparities, reproductive health, infant mortality and HIV/AIDS in women of color. Additionally, she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. Since 2018, she has hosted a national conference on Black maternal health inequities.
Audra Meadows, MD MPH
Audra Meadows MD MPH is an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and medical director of ambulatory obstetrics at the Brigham & Womens Hospital. She is an academic, obstetrics specialist actively investigating the root of disparities in birth outcomes particularly maternal morbidity, mortality and preterm birth. She also leads public health initiatives to implement programs to eliminate inequities in birth outcomes clinically.
Christina Gebel, MPH
Christina Gebel is a birth doula, Lamaze childbirth educator, and Maternal Child Health consultant who specializes in the integration of doula care into the healthcare system. In 2016, Christina became one of six co-founders of Accompany Doula Care, which strives to integrate Community Doula Care into Accountable Care Organizations. She also leads a community-driven coalition for the Massachusetts doula reimbursement bill, H.1182. Christina has a background in qualitative research.