Black women are three to five times more likely to die from pregnancy-related trauma compared to White women, and empirical studies have suggested a link between poor maternal outcomes, race, and quality of patient-provider communication. Inadequate and inappropriate information sharing by providers is associated with disempowerment, communication dissatisfaction, inauthentic identity expression because of fear of being stereotyped, depression and other pregnancy-related illnesses.
On the provider side, improving the cultural competence of healthcare practitioners is often suggested, but there has been limited attention to patient-centered solutions that would provide critical support for Black women to navigate, survive and thrive despite a slow-changing healthcare system. Limited research has suggested that social support from trained and untrained personal aides can be associated with some positive clinical outcomes (i.e. reductions in need for analgesia and Cesarean sections, and increases in spontaneous vaginal deliveries without interventions like forceps or vacuum extraction), and some psychosocial outcomes such as higher self-esteem and medical service satisfaction and wellbeing.
Our aim in this study is to design an intervention that elucidates the mechanisms of social support and its potential to improve Black maternal health outcomes, with a theoretical and practical focus on the role of communication science.