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New AJPH supplement transforms maternal health

Date: May 15 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: APHA Media Relations

In rural and underserved areas of the United States, there is a shortage of physicians trained in obstetrics to care for women. The quality of care for this population during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum is especially crucial. In recognition of the urgent need to address the complex interplay of factors that contribute to maternal health in underserved areas, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has partnered with the American Journal of Public Health to create the special supplement “Improving Maternal Health Outcomes”. 

This groundbreaking issue explores how maternal health outcomes are influenced by social determinants of health, public health protections and access to quality clinical care. The content focuses on the Primary Care Training Enhancement – Community Prevention and Maternal Health (PCTE-CMPH) program, which educates primary care and preventive medicine physicians about critical aspects of maternal care and highlights innovative approaches. PCTE-CPMH innovations enhance caregivers’ willingness and capabilities to provide comprehensive maternal care through training programs and service delivery models.

“By training physicians in system changes that enhance care quality and emphasize public health measures, the PCTE-CMPH program aims to bring women through pregnancy in optimal health. This innovative approach bridges the gap between clinical expertise and population health and revolutionizes maternal care,” according to Capt. Paul Jung, MD, MPH, FACPM. “We show in this supplement how addressing social determinants, preventive measures and community engagement paves the way for healthier pregnancies and better postpartum care.”

Major findings in this issue show:

Geographic information system (GIS) software used to estimate driving distance from mothers’ residences in Conecuh County, Alabama, to a hospital for 370 births found that most of these deliveries (81%) occurred 22–29 miles from mothers’ homes.
A quality improvement process in a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) prenatal clinic resulted in an increase in documentation of pre-eclampsia screening from 23% to 80% of patients.
A new training track for family medicine residents in Illinois prepared them to provide evidence-based maternity care in rural and underserved communities, with an emphasis on higher-risk and surgical obstetrics.
In a quality improvement study, researchers found an increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates over six months from a baseline rate of 30.8% to 48%- among pregnant and six-months postpartum people in a marginalized population in western New York.

This supplement underscores the pivotal role of public health practitioners. Their expertise in identifying the right questions, advocating for evidence-based policies and fostering collaboration is essential for advancing maternal health. The special AJPH supplement, “Improving Maternal Health Outcomes” is available online. Contact APHA Media Relations if you need a full copy of a study or want to schedule an interview.

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence policy to improve the public's health. Learn more at www.apha.org.