Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Health Services

Advisor

Earla White

Abstract

Health care disparities are U.S. national public health concerns that disproportionately affect minority populations. The focus of published studies on the health of larger immigrant populations from Europe, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean has revealed a knowledge gap on the health of African and other minority immigrants. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore disparities in access to maternal and child health (MCH) care as well as the causes and effects of such disparities to care-seeking experiences of recent African immigrants. Andersen's behavioral model of health services use provided the theoretical lenses to interpret study findings. Eleven recent African immigrant mothers living in metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts, participated in semistructured questions that generated data used in this study. NVivo 11 was used to manage data, which enabled convenient use of Colaizzi's data analysis technique to identify themes and subthemes that were synthesized into final findings. Study results indicated that although participants used MCH care services, factors such as racial/ethnic discrimination, insurance differences, immigration, and socioeconomic status marred the process of seeking care, with notable access disparities that negatively affect MCH care experiences. The field of health for African immigrants is ripe for research. Other researchers could replicate this study elsewhere in the United States and other traditional immigrant-destination countries. Study findings could benefit health care providers, public health professionals, researchers, and immigrant populations. Actions for sustainable positive social change may result in the form of improved health care access and health outcomes for minority immigrants in the United States and beyond.