Laura Attanasio joined the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies as a post-doctoral fellow for the 2016-17 academic year. Along with teaching “U.S. Health Policy: National, State, and Local Contexts,” and “History and Politics of Midwifery in the United States,” she is also conducting research on rural Appalachian women’s experiences with maternity care.

Nearly 4 million women give birth in the United States each year, and childbirth is the most common reason for hospitalization. Despite increased attention to the importance of high-quality patient-provider interaction as part of healthcare quality, few studies have addressed the relationship between pregnant women and their healthcare providers. About 15% of U.S. women giving birth live in rural areas. Rural women face particular issues with regard to health care during pregnancy and birth, including having to travel longer distances to get to prenatal care appointments and the hospital where they give birth, and potentially having difficulty accessing resources that can enhance patient-provider communication during pregnancy and birth, such as doula services and childbirth education classes. Research has begun to document differences in the care women receive depending on whether they are in an urban or rural location (such as differences in rates of labor induction and cesarean delivery), but studies have not addressed rural women’s own perspectives on their maternity care experiences.

In this study, Laura conducted in-depth interviews with Grundy County women about their relationships with providers and healthcare experiences during the pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.

Progress to date (5.31.17)

Laura has conducted 6 interviews, and is hoping to conduct 10-15 additional interviews in June.

Her goal is to complete data collection by the end of the project period (June 30). Analysis and dissemination of results will continue through next year. Laura will write up results in a format accessible to a wide audience and share this with the Collaborative.