Addressing Stressors that Black Mothers Experience

Addressing Stressors that Black Mothers Experience

As Jamil Norman, PhD, RN, CNE, a co-author of the research study Insights into fear: A phenomenal study of Black mothers (other authors of the study are Sharon L. Dormire, Jodie C. Gary, and Idethia Shevon Harvey), discovered, the greatest fear that Black mothers have is that their sons will be killed, and they won’t be able to keep them safe.

“The purpose of this phenomenological study was to identify the stressors Black women experience as mothers. This paper focused on the most striking stressor, which was living in fear. Fear for personal safety has been identified in previous research with Black populations,” says Norman, academic coordinator for Walden University’s Tempo programs. This study, she says, was the first of its kind that identified these mothers fear that their children will be killed—and it specifically referred to their sons.

“Mothers normally express fears related to raising children. The fear expressed by mothers in this study was different in that it is much more specific,” explains Norman. “Historically, Black Americans have struggled to deal with injustice, unfair treatment, threats to safety and racial inequality. These challenges are arduous as Black mothers learn to navigate raising their children to endure racial discrimination.

In this study, several stress themes were identified from the data. However, the most pervasive stressor was living in fear. Living in fear focused not on the mothers themselves but on the fear of ‘them being killed’ with ‘them’ being a Black son. Another subtheme of living in fear was the resultant concern of whether the mother could keep him safe.”

While there were some finds in the study that surprised her, the themes of “them being killed” and “can I keep him safe?” weren’t. “Although I don’t have a son of my own, I have a husband, brothers, nephews, family, and friends whom I have worried about being killed and keeping safe. These stressors were not new to me as a Black woman,” she says.

In order to help these women in the study—as well as others in the Black community—Norman says, “We need to give Black women a voice that is heard. This can be done through continued research and community outreach. It is imperative that we educate others in the community about these fears and how they make an impact on the health of Black women not only during pregnancy, but overall.”

Nurses, Norman says, can take action to help with this. “Nurses must educate themselves and advocate for their patients. It is difficult to advocate for something that you are not educated about. That’s why I believe nurses must have a general understanding of the disparities associated with maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in the Black community,” Norman says. “After nurses are educated, then they can truly advocate.”

California Minority Nurses Gather to Discuss Patient Advocacy in Fresno

California Minority Nurses Gather to Discuss Patient Advocacy in Fresno

Last Saturday, as part of a program called “Minority Nurse Leadership in the 21st Century,” about 100 minority nurses from all around California met at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno to discuss the role of nurses in patient advocacy and leadership. According to statistics, 40 percent of the California population are Latino while only 7 percent of the nurses statewide are Latino, proving the need for more minority nurses in California.

A 2014 Board of Nursing report from the California State Board of Registered Nursing reported that Latinos will continue to be underrepresented and become even more underrepresented in the nursing workforce in the future. African American nurses are also expected to be underrepresented until 2030, while all other racial groups continue to be overrepresented compared to the general population.

The number of white nurses in the workforce has declined from 77.2 percent in 1990 to 51.6 percent in 2014. This decline leaves the most highly represented nonwhite group of nurses as Filipinos at 20.3 percent of the workforce, with non-Filipino Asian nurses at 8.5 percent, and black nurses at about 5 percent.

Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, a member of the California State Board of Registered Nursing and director of the Central California Center for Excellence in Nursing at Fresno State, says the purpose of the minority nurse meeting in Fresno was to get more minority nurses into leadership positions so they can serve as role models and mentors to minority students who want to go into nursing but don’t see a realistic way to get there.

Kimberly Horton, chief executive officer at Vibra Hospital of Sacramento, says that nursing is an opportunity that many Latinos have never thought about so nursing programs need to be marketed to that population, and using minority nurses to educate their peers about the nursing profession is a great way to get started. Horton is an African American registered nurse and she was one of five speakers at the Fresno meeting.

Minority nurses can be wonderful advocates for patients, bringing a special understanding of health beliefs that are ethically, culturally, and religiously based and that can have a real effect on patient health. By including nurses who represent ethnic groups in the development of patient health care plans, health care teams can better develop logical plans for treatment that won’t negatively impact the health of minority patients due to common misunderstandings or misperceptions that patients have about their health and treatment.