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Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has affected communities of colour the hardest. Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic pregnant women appear to have disproportionate SARS-CoV-2 infection and death rates.

Methods and analysis We will use the socioecological framework and employ a concurrent triangulation, mixed-methods study design to achieve three specific aims: (1) examine the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on racial/ethnic disparities in severe maternal morbidity and mortality (SMMM); (2) explore how social contexts (eg, racial/ethnic residential segregation) have contributed to the widening of racial/ethnic disparities in SMMM during the pandemic and identify distinct mediating pathways through maternity care and mental health; and (3) determine the role of social contextual factors on racial/ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related morbidities using machine learning algorithms. We will leverage an existing South Carolina COVID-19 Cohort by creating a pregnancy cohort that links COVID-19 testing data, electronic health records (EHRs), vital records data, healthcare utilisation data and billing data for all births in South Carolina (SC) between 2018 and 2021 (>200 000 births). We will also conduct similar analyses using EHR data from the National COVID-19 Cohort Collaborative including >270 000 women who had a childbirth between 2018 and 2021 in the USA. We will use a convergent parallel design which includes a quantitative analysis of data from the 2018–2021 SC Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (unweighted n>2000) and in-depth interviews of 40 postpartum women and 10 maternal care providers to identify distinct mediating pathways.

Ethics and dissemination The study was approved by institutional review boards at the University of SC (Pro00115169) and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC IRB.21-030). Informed consent will be provided by the participants in the in-depth interviews. Study findings will be disseminated with key stakeholders including patients, presented at academic conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

APA Citation

Liu, J., Hung, P., Liang, C., Zhang, J., Qiao, S., & Campbell, B. et al. (2022). Multilevel determinants of racial/ethnic disparities in severe maternal morbidity and mortality in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA: protocol for a concurrent triangulation, mixed-methods study. BMJ Open, 12(6), e062294.


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