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Pregnancy, Psychological distress, Racial discrimination, Social support



  1. Giurgescu, Carmen PhD, RN
  2. Zenk, Shannon N. PhD, MPH, RN
  3. Engeland, Christopher G. PhD
  4. Garfield, Lindsey PhD, RN
  5. Templin, Thomas N. PhD


Purpose: African American women are more likely to be exposed to racial discrimination and to experience psychological distress compared with white women. Although studies have shown that social support is positively related to psychological wellbeing, little is known about the potential buffering effect of social support on the relationship between racial discrimination and psychological wellbeing of pregnant women. The purpose of this study was to determine if social support moderates effects of racial discrimination on psychological wellbeing among pregnant African American women.


Study Design and Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, 107 African American women between 15 and 26 weeks gestation from an urban university-based midwifery practice completed questionnaires.


Results: Women who reported more experiences of racial discrimination also reported lower levels of social support and psychological wellbeing (p <.05).


Clinical Implications: Maternal child nurses should be aware that experiences of racial discrimination have negative effects on psychological wellbeing of pregnant African American women regardless of their levels of social support. However, social support can reduce psychological distress and improve wellbeing of pregnant women. Therefore, nurses need to provide pregnant women with positive and supportive experiences that may improve their psychological wellbeing.