Assessing Racial Disparities in Access, Use, and Outcomes for Pregnant and Postpartum Veterans and Their Infants in Veterans Health Administration

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Publication Title

Journal of women's health (2002)


Objective: Limited population-based data examines racial disparities among pregnant and postpartum veterans. Our objective was to determine whether Black/white racial disparities in health care access, use, and veteran and infant outcomes are present among pregnant and postpartum veterans and their infants using Veterans Health Administration (VA) care.

Methods: The VA National Veteran Pregnancy and Maternity Care Survey included all veterans with a VA paid live birth between June 2018 and December 2019. Participants could complete the survey online or by telephone. The independent variable was self-reported race. Outcomes included timely initiation of prenatal care, perceived access to timely prenatal care, attendance at a postpartum check-up, receipt of needed mental health care, cesarean section, postpartum rehospitalization, low birthweight, preterm birth, admission to a neonatal intensive care unit, and breastfeeding. Nonresponse weighted general linear models with a log-link were used to examine associations of race with outcomes. Cox regression was used to examine the association of race with duration of breastfeeding. Models adjusted for age, ethnicity, urban versus rural residence, and parity.

Results: The analytic sample consisted of 1,220 veterans (Black n = 916; white n = 304) representing 3,439 weighted responses (Black n = 1,027; white n = 2,412). No racial disparities were detected for health care access or use. Black veterans were more likely than white veterans to have a postpartum rehospitalization (RR 1.67, 95% CI: 1.04-2.68) and a low-birthweight infant (RR 1.67, 95% CI: 1.20-2.33).

Conclusion: While no racial disparities were detected for health care access and use, we identified disparities in postpartum rehospitalization and low birthweight, underscoring that access is not sufficient for ensuring health equity.

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print