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Claire Brown, Ph.D. The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health MPH completed a study in Fall 2021 on how mental illness amplifies adverse maternal outcomes, including severe maternal morbidity. Data from his project was used in the June 2022 White House draft to address the maternal health crisis report.
July 29, 2022 | Claire Brown, Ph.D. The Boozeman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences was pleasantly surprised to learn that data from a project she co-authored was used to address the Maternal Health Crisis Report in the June 2022 White House Blueprint.
Last fall, Brown, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, completed a study of how mental illness amplifies adverse maternal outcomes, including severe maternal morbidity, higher hospital costs and longer lengths of stay. His research, supported by his colleagues at the Medicaid Innovation Institute in Washington, DC, has been published in several publications.
Even so, Brown was still surprised to see his study in a White House report.
“I didn’t know anything about it until I read it a few days after the report was published,” she said. “A colleague brought this to my attention. Nice to see my work getting published by the White House. It’s good to know that our projects feed into political decisions, especially those dealing with health equity. ,
Brown estimates the size of the White House, which references his work. However, he is very grateful for the opportunity to promote mental health awareness.
“My work, read by White House staff and written by White House staff, is excellent,” she said. “But I also welcome how the report emphasizes the need to address mental health issues for women. Clinical diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure not only affect pregnancy, but also psychological problems. Conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD and trauma also have an impact. Psychological trauma is one of the most important ways to predict a woman’s severe maternal morbidity.
“Arkansas has one of the highest maternal death rates in the country. One of the biggest factors is negative pre-pregnancy clinical outcomes. We are learning that mental health issues contribute to this problem.”
Brown said raising mental health awareness is a much-needed development, especially for women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby.
“People don’t need to feel like they’re alone and nobody understands what they’re going through,” she said. “When a woman has a child, she takes care of the child and often doesn’t focus on herself. Nowadays, when family members see a mother who is not doing well, they call her that. She feels more comfortable when she gets the help she needs.”
According to the White House report, women living in rural communities or rural states like Arkansas often have limited choices when it comes to maternal care. This result is mainly due to systemic imbalances that pose a barrier to healthcare opportunities.
Being part of a White House report pointing to a plan that could help families in Arkansas — especially women — explains why Brown has dedicated himself to the research.
“Our career goal as researchers is to find answers and suggestions that will improve the health of the population,” she said. “It’s exciting to see my work translated into policies. I hope it will end up saving infant or maternal lives and reducing the racial disparities in those outcomes.”