First Advisor

Tina Burdsall

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology and University Honors




Reproductive health -- Cross-cultural studies, Discrimination in medical care -- United States, Minorities -- Medical care -- United States, African Americans -- Medical care




Despite impressive medical advancements the gap in health and the quality of health care between blacks and whites has remained consistent or even increased in the past several decades in America, and reproductive health outcomes reveal similar trends. Black infants have a mortality rate that is 2.4 times higher than whites in the first year, and black mothers are 3 times more likely to die when giving birth when compared to white women (MacDorman et al. 2011 & Paxton and Wardlaw, 2011). In regards to the current and historically poor birth outcomes for black women and infants compared to whites some attribute this to a medical model, such as inadequate prenatal care, genetic differences, or higher engagement in at-risk activities. Others claim this quality gap is present between blacks and whites because racism and the stress it brings and income inequality in the United States. While these factors are influential they cannot account for the entire gap in birth outcomes, and further there is little explanation as to why these behavioral factors are present. Patient mistrust in the health care system is a unique form of racism influenced by a history of inequality and mistreatment in medical practices for black patients, this affects the discrepancy in birth outcomes by compounding present racial stressors, lesser resources, and a reluctance to receive medical treatment.


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