Publication Date: December 5th, 2019
Publication Type(s): Peer-reviewed Journal Publications
Topic(s): American Indians and Alaska Natives, Health Disparities and Health Equity, Hospitals and Clinics, Maternal Health, Medicaid and S-CHIP, Women
Author(s): Kozhimannil KB, Interrante JD, Henning-Smith C, Admon LK
In the United States, severe maternal morbidity and mortality is climbing—a reality that is especially challenging for rural communities, which face declining access to obstetric services. Severe maternal morbidity refers to potentially life-threatening complications or the need to undergo a lifesaving procedure during or immediately following childbirth. Using data for 2007–15 from the National Inpatient Sample, we analyzed severe maternal morbidity and mortality during childbirth hospitalizations among rural and urban residents. We found that severe maternal morbidity and mortality increased among both rural and urban residents in the study period, from 109 per 10,000 childbirth hospitalizations in 2007 to 152 per 10,000 in 2015. When we controlled for sociodemographic factors and clinical conditions, we found that rural residents had a 9 percent greater probability of severe maternal morbidity and mortality, compared with urban residents. Attention to the challenges faced by rural patients and health care facilities is crucial to the success of efforts to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality in rural areas. These challenges include both clinical factors (workforce shortages, low patient volume, and the opioid epidemic) and social determinants of health (transportation, housing, poverty, food security, racism, violence, and trauma).