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Neighborhood, Preterm birth, Social support, Stress.



  1. Giurgescu, Carmen PhD, RN, WHNP
  2. Banks, Amelia MSN, RN
  3. Dancy, Barbara L. PhD, RN, FAAN
  4. Norr, Kathleen PhD, RN


Purpose: To explore pregnant African American women's views of factors that may impact preterm birth.


Study Design and Methods: Qualitative descriptive exploratory cross-sectional design. A convenience sample of 22 low-risk pregnant African American women participated in focus group interviews. Women were asked questions regarding their belief about why women have preterm birth and factors impacting preterm birth. Data were analyzed using content analysis.


Results: Pregnant African American women encounter multiple physical, psychological, and social stressors. The four themes included knowledge of preterm birth, risk factors for preterm birth, protective factors for preterm birth, and preterm birth inevitability. The risk factors for preterm birth were health-related conditions, stressors, and unhealthy behaviors. Stressors included lack of social and financial support, interpersonal conflicts, judging, dangerous neighborhoods, racism, and pregnancy- and mothering-related worries. Protective factors for preterm birth included social support and positive coping/self-care.


Clinical Implications: Clinicians may use the results of this study to better understand women's perceptions of factors that affect preterm birth, to educate women about risk factors for preterm birth, and to develop programs and advocate for policies that have the potential to decrease health disparities in preterm birth.