Lauren Hicks awarded grant to explore racial disparities in prenatal care

Lauren Hicks, PhD, RN

Congratulations to Postdoctoral Fellow Lauren Hicks, PhD, RN, on being awarded a grant from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The grant will fund her research project titled “Qualitative Content Analysis Exploring Racial Disparities in Prenatal Care through Patient-Provider Communication.” Professor SeonAe Yeo, PhD, RNC, FAAN, will serve as a co-investigator on the project.

Most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, but in the United States, pregnancy-related deaths are four to five times higher for Black, American Indian, and American Native women when compared to White women according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In order to address these disparities, the project will focus on understanding patient-provider communication in prenatal care and how it may contribute to the underlying causes of racial disparities, such as implicit bias.

Using qualitative content analysis of obstetric providers’ visit notes, the project aims to detect potential differences in communication based on race. By reviewing the chart notes while blinded to the participants’ racial status, the researchers intend to minimize potential bias in their analysis.

The project’s long-term goals include assessing for implicit bias among obstetric providers and improving birth outcomes through enhanced relationships and communication techniques between prenatal patients and providers, regardless of race.