A review of recent literature on materialist and psychosocial models for racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes in the US, 2000–2014

Miriam Mutambudzi, John D. Meyer, Susan Reisine, Nicholas Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Material and psychosocial factors exacerbate racial disparities in health outcomes. This review sought to ascertain recent knowledge of the effects of materialist and psychosocial factors on differences in low birthweight (LBW) and preterm delivery (PTD) outcomes between Black and White mothers. Design: Search and review was conducted for studies that examined: (a) neighborhood-level deprivation as an indicator of material conditions, and (b) racial discrimination or occupational stressors as indicators of psychosocial stress. The outcomes of interest were LBW and PTD. Results: Material and psychosocial factors significantly and negatively affected Blacks more than Whites, and were associated with increased adverse outcomes. Of five studies with a homogeneous Black study sample, three reported no effect on outcomes in women exposed to material or psychosocial factors. Conclusion: Through this review we find that in comparison to White women, Black women are at higher risk of adverse outcomes due to both psychosocial stress and meso-level deprivation, after accounting for personal factors. A better understanding of effects on health outcomes of material and psychosocial factors in Black women is needed. Further investigation into materialist and psychosocial factors, will allow us to better understand the factors driving PTD and LBW disparities in the US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalEthnicity and Health
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 18 2016



  • birth outcomes
  • discrimination
  • LBW
  • materialist
  • neighborhood deprivation
  • occupational characteristics
  • psychosocial
  • PTD
  • Racial disparities
  • racism
  • substantive complexity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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