New Survey Reveals Insight into Georgia's Maternal Health Crisis | Emory University | Atlanta GA

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ATLANTA – One in 10 Georgians know of someone who has died during pregnancy, at delivery, or soon after birth, and more than half (57%) have experienced or know someone who has experienced complications during pregnancy, according to data being presented today as part of the inaugural Symposium to Address the Maternal Health Crisis in Georgia.

The data is from a first-of-its-kind statewide survey that captured Georgians’ views of the maternal health crisis facing the state, where the rates of pregnancy related deaths are among the worst in the nation and where Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.   

Commissioned by Research!America in partnership with the Woodruff Health Sciences Center at Emory University, and developed in collaboration with researchers and stakeholders across multiple state institutions, the findings highlight themes around health equity, mental health, access to care, and eagerness for state and federal support for research and action. Specifically, the survey found:

  • Substance use disorders (47%), lack of insurance (47%), and mental health (41%) rank as top factors perceived to contribute to an increased risk of maternal mortality.
  • People living in rural areas are more likely (65%) to have experienced complications during pregnancy or to know someone who has compared to people in urban areas (56%).
  • Georgians say that improving affordability of maternal health care (73%) and access to health insurance coverage are top priorities (70%) to reducing maternal mortality.
  • Eighty-two percent of Georgians say it is important for the State of Georgia to increase investment in initiatives to reduce maternal mortality and support including maternal mortality as a state budget item.
  • Many Georgians think that our health care system treats people unfairly at least somewhat often based on whether they have health insurance (79%), how much money they have (65%), their racial or ethnic background (61%), and how well they speak English (61%).
  • More than half of Georgians (54%) say the top barrier is that health care is too expensive, even with insurance. Twenty-nine percent say they do not have insurance, while 28% face difficulties making appointments due to a lack of available initial and follow-up appointment times.
  • More than a third of respondents say that racism is a major obstacle (36%) to people achieving equal health outcomes. African Americans are more likely (49%) to say it is a major obstacle.
  • Eighty-seven percent of Georgians say it is important to conduct research to combat health disparities.
  • Despite significant concern (70%), Georgians are hopeful about the future of maternal health (74%).

“The high level of awareness and concern about the devastating level of maternal mortality we see in this survey of adults in the state of Georgia represents nothing short of a call to action. It is nonetheless heartening to see Georgians’ strong support for action to reverse the discouraging trends, including more coordination of services, and support for more research and for community-based interventions,” says Mary Woolley, president of Research!America. “We are proud to partner in this important effort to better understand public opinion in Georgia, which can lead to the adoption of evidence-based solutions to this pressing public health crisis.” 

The survey results are being shared on November 29 during the Symposium to Address the Maternal Health Crisis in Georgia – hosted by Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Mercer University School of Medicine, and Research! America – which brings together stakeholders across health care, state and federal governments, community partners, and advocacy groups to identify opportunities to improve maternal and newborn health in Georgia.

“This survey puts a public health perspective on the challenges posed by the maternal health crisis. Hearing from Georgians who are personally experiencing these challenges gives us a window into potential solutions that will make a real difference across the state,” says Ravi I. Thadhani, MD, MPH, executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University. “That is why we are thankful for the opportunity this symposium provides to come together with these other fine institutions and to partner on creating a path toward measurable progress. We can’t do that as single institutions; we have to do it collaboratively and by speaking with one voice.”

The online survey was conducted by Zogby Analytics on behalf of Research!America in October 2023, among 803 adults in Georgia plus 606 additional adults for minority oversampling. The survey has a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

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