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

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

The results were published earlier this month in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecologyrevealed that states with the highest nurse diversity reported fewer maternal health complications during childbirth, including pre-eclampsia, blood transfusions, hysterectomy, and intensive care unit admissions.

“The greater the racial and ethnic diversity of the nurse workforce, the better the health outcomes for the mother,” said Guohua Lee, study author and professor of epidemiology and anesthesia at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “This finding holds for white mothers as well as mothers of color.”

Birth in states with the highest nurse diversity was associated with a reduction in severe adverse maternal outcomes of 50% for Asian and Pacific Islander mothers, 32% for white mothers, 31% for Hispanic mothers and 20% for black mothers.

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

Lee advised medical centers to hire a more diverse healthcare workforce to reduce disparities in maternal health.

“Diversity is widely regarded as a strength of the United States,” he told me. “Our study indicates that workforce diversity can also be a major force for the US health system, benefiting the entire population.”

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