What Black Mothers with Preterm Infants Want for Their Mental Health Care: A Qualitative Study. Academic Article uri icon


  • TITLE: "I think that some culturally sensitive mental health information could have been provided": What Black mothers with preterm infants want for their mental health care: A qualitative study. BACKGROUND: In the United States, preterm birth (PTB) rates in Black women are 50% higher than in non-Hispanic White and Hispanic mothers. Existing discriminatory sociohistorical and contemporary health care practices have been linked to the alarmingly higher rates of PTB among Black families. While it is well-known that PTB is associated with increased mental health (MH) problems, Black women experience elevated MH burdens due to inequities along the care continuum in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Consequently, culturally responsive MH care holds promises to achieve maternal MH equity. This study aimed to explore the available MH services and resources in the NICU for Black mothers with preterm infants. We also sought to discover potential recommendations and strategies for MH programs through a cultural lens. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with Black mothers with preterm infants using a Grounded Theory approach embedded in the Black feminist theory. RESULTS: Eleven mothers who gave birth to a preterm infant between 2008 and 2021 participated in this study. Eight women reported not receiving MH services or resources in the NICU. Interestingly, of the three mothers who received MH referrals/services, two did so one-year postbirth and did not utilize the services. Three main themes emerged: stress and the NICU experience, coping mechanisms, and culturally appropriate MH care with diverse providers are needed. Overall, our finds suggest that MH care is not prioritized in the NICU. CONCLUSION: Black mothers with preterm infants encounter numerous negative and stressful experiences that exacerbate their MH during and beyond the NICU. However, MH services in the NICU and follow-up services are scarce. Mothers in this study endorsed creating culturally appropriate MH programs that addresses their unique intersections.

published proceedings

  • Womens Health Rep (New Rochelle)

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Ajayi, K. V., & Garney, W. R.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Ajayi, Kobi V||Garney, Whitney R

publication date

  • February 2023