Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Jay Metzger


Maternal mortality; Pregnancy-complication; Racial disparities; Black mortality; Racial disparities; Prenatal care; Obstetrics; Severe maternal morbidity; Women of color


Non-Hispanic black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancyrelated complications when compared to their Caucasian equivalents, however more than half of these deaths are considered potentially preventable.The purpose of this research and systematic literature review is to analyze why obstrictrical morbidity and mortality is significantly higher amongst women of color, and determine if racial disparities play a role. Healthcare measures used to reduce or prevent maternal morbidity and mortality are also accomplished in this article. A comprehensive literature review was performed using electronic databases, including CINAHL, PubMed, Clinical Key, Cochrane Library, and Dynamed Plus. Results were limited to studies completed within the past 10 years. The addition of a pregnancy question on the U.S. death certificate in 2003 increased the mortality rate, which suggests improved detection and reporting, but there have been some inconsistencies with reporting. The magnitude of chronic conditions and racial disparities in pregnancy-related deaths in women of color and strategies for quality healthcare measures. These factors are significant; however, they do not fully explain the prominent rates of severe maternal morbidity and mortality among ethnic minority women. Factors that must be taken into consideration are those of significant ethnic disparities, structural racism, and implicit bias that contribute to maternal health outcomes.