African American women are at a higher risk of experiencing maternal health complications than women of other races. Determining the factors that contribute to the severity of their maternal health complications can help bring awareness and exposure to the disparities among black women in maternal health. The purpose of this study was to explore the various elements that contribute to the high pregnancy mortality ratio and infant mortality ratio in black women and black infants. The secondary purpose was to determine the relationship between stereotypes about African American women as healthcare consumers and the disproportionate percentage of black women experiencing fatal maternal complications.

A literature review examining the effects of physiological differences, external stressors, stigmas and stereotypes, and miscommunication with health care physicians was conducted from various online databases. Peer reviewed, research articles published in the English language from 1992-2020 that focused on factors during the prenatal and perinatal period that influenced the pregnancy-related mortality ratio were included for synthesis. Results from 14 studies that examined factors resulting in maternal health disparities in African American women were compared to determine accuracy and consistency with the data. The studies suggest that smaller pelvic structures, stigmas that label black women as over exaggerative, and distrust within African American communities with health care staff contribute to the different maternal outcomes in black women. Although the data remained consistent and proved there are similar factors that cause disparities in maternal care, many of the studies had small sample sizes indicating the need for further research on the subject.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

D'Amato-Kubiet, Leslee


Bushy, Angeline


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing





Access Status

Open Access

Release Date