Maternal health equity in Georgia: a Delphi consensus approach to definition and research priorities

Natalie D. Hernandez, Angela D. Aina, L. Joy Baker, Sarah C. Blake, Alexis B. Dunn Amore, Cheryl G. Franklin, Zsakeba T. Henderson, Michael R. Kramer, Fleda Mask Jackson, Elizabeth Mosley, Lauren Nunally, Shirley Sylvester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pregnancy-related mortality in the United States is the greatest among all high-income countries, and Georgia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates—almost twice the national rate. Furthermore, inequities exist in rates of pregnancy-related deaths. In Georgia, non-Hispanic Black women are nearly 3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than non-Hispanic White women. Unlike health equity, a clear definition of maternal health equity is lacking, overall and in Georgia specifically, but is needed to reach consensus and align stakeholders for action. Therefore, we used a modified Delphi method to define maternal health equity in Georgia and to determine research priorities based on gaps in understanding of maternal health in Georgia. Methods: Thirteen expert members of the Georgia Maternal Health Research for Action Steering Committee (GMHRA-SC) participated in an iterative, consensus-driven, modified Delphi study comprised of 3 rounds of anonymous surveys. In round 1 (web-based survey), experts generated open-ended concepts of maternal health equity and listed research priorities. In rounds 2 (web-based meeting) and 3 (web-based survey), the definition and research priorities suggested during round 1 were categorized into concepts for ranking based on relevance, importance, and feasibility. Final concepts were subjected to a conventional content analysis to identify general themes. Results: The consensus definition of maternal health equity created after undergoing the Delphi method is: maternal health equity is the ultimate goal and ongoing process of ensuring optimal perinatal experiences and outcomes for everyone as the result of practices and policies free of interpersonal or structural bias that tackle current and historical injustices, including social, structural, and political determinants of health impacting the perinatal period and life course. This definition highlights addressing the current and historical injustices manifested in the social determinants of health, and the structural and political structures that impact the perinatal experience. Conclusion: The maternal health equity definition and identified research priorities will guide the GMHRA-SC and the broader maternal health community for research, practice, and advocacy in Georgia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number596
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Definition
  • Delphi
  • Disparities
  • Equity
  • Georgia
  • Maternal health
  • Maternal mortality
  • Perinatal
  • Pregnancy
  • Social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal health equity in Georgia: a Delphi consensus approach to definition and research priorities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this