Nurse diversity linked to a reduced risk of maternal health issues, study finds

Columbia University researchers state found that hiring more nurses of color may help address “racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes” and improve maternal health.

The findings, which were published earlier this month in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, revealed that states with the highest nurse diversity reported fewer health complications for moms during childbirth, including eclampsia, blood transfusion, hysterectomy and intensive care unit admission.

“The more racially and ethnically diverse the nurse workforce is, the better maternal health outcomes are,” said Guohua Li, a study author and professor of epidemiology and anesthesiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “This finding holds up for white mothers as well as for mothers of color.”

Giving birth in states with the highest nurse diversity was associated with a reduction in severe adverse maternal outcomes by 50% for Asian and Pacific Islander mothers, 32% for white mothers, 31% for Latina mothers and 20% for Black mothers.

“This study is important because persistent racial disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality are of public health significance and because health care workforce diversity is amendable to policy interventions,” Li said.

Li advised medical centers to employ a more diverse health care workforce to reduce maternal health disparities.

“Demographic diversity is widely regarded as a strength of the United States,” Li said. “Our study indicates that workforce diversity could also be a major strength of the U.S. health system, which benefits the entire population.”

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