Although maternal health disparities and causes of it have been greatly discussed in the literature, there is little to no research on the role that medical schools and training have on reducing these disparities (or not). The overall aim of my dissertation study is to gain insight into the role that the healthcare system has on maternal mental and physical health. First, my proposal seeks to examine if and how maternal health disparities are being addressed in medical schools. Second, my proposed study seeks to examine how interactions with health professionals affect Black women’s maternal mental health. Given that my research is interested in examining maternal health from two different perspectives—mothers and medical institutions—a mixed-method approach will be used. The proposed study plans to investigate the following questions: 1. Describe and explore whether, when, and how much medical schools are incorporating curriculum on maternal health disparities, and whether the differences in curriculum focus varies across features of schools. 2. How do faculty and students at U.S. medical schools incorporate and make sense of curriculum on maternal health disparities? 3. How do interactions with health professionals affect Black women’s maternal mental health?
There are three methodologies—conceptual content analysis, in-depth interviews, and secondary data analysis—that will be used for my dissertation. The content analysis will answer the first research question, the in-depth interviews will be used to answer the second question and sub-questions, and the secondary data analysis will be used to answer the third question and sub-question. Given that the content analysis will inform my questions for the interviews, the content analysis will be conducted first. I plan to conduct my interviews beginning in the middle of the summer at three medical institutions in the Chicago area, where I will interview a total of 10-15 medical professors and 15-25 medical students. While interviewing participants over the summer, I will be simultaneously running analyses using a nationally representative sample available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) to address the third research question.
My goal for this mentorship program is to provide an undergraduate student with the experience of conducting research using multiple methodologies. I would like my research assistant to work on all 3 projects by assisting me with gathering literature, thematically coding the data from the content analysis, transcribing and helping to thematically code the interviews, and running analysis with the secondary dataset. In the first couple of weeks, the assistant with be working on the content analysis and the secondary data analysis. As the interviews occur, I will have the assistant work on transcribing the interviews. By the end of the mentorship, I would like for my research assistant to have obtained skills in both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.