Insights into fear: A phenomenological study of Black mothers

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Journal of Advanced Nursing


Aim: The aim of the study was to explore the lived experience of stress as described by Black childbearing women.

Design: A phenomenological approach was used.

Methods: Seven mothers who met inclusion criteria participated in both individual and group interviews between August 2018 and August 2019. Each session was audio recorded and professionally transcribed. Consistent with van Manen's phenomenological approach, three rounds of reflective transcript analysis were conducted over several months.

Results: Several stress themes were identified from the data. However, the most pervasive theme was the fear of having a son and keeping him safe. In this paper, the themes of Living in Fear and Living with Fear are detailed.

Conclusion: Previous research has found that Black populations in America fear for their safety. This study identified a pervasive and profound fear for their children, specifically sons who are at a higher risk of being killed in normal daily activities. Mothers also expressed fears about their responsibility to keep them safe by providing the right tools.

Impact: Although scientists have long studied poor pregnancy outcomes for Black American women, the disparity persists. This study sought to identify stressors acknowledged by Black mothers themselves. For the first time, Black mothers stated that their primary stress is fear for their children's lives. The role this fear has in adverse pregnancy outcomes, if any, is yet to be determined.

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