Social and Clinical Risk Assessment Among Pregnant Haitian Women in South Florida


  • Lauren Fordyce PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Lauren Fordyce is a recent PhD graduate from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She is currently teaching in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
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This article describes the cultural experiences of pregnant Haitian women living in South Florida and their implications for clinical risk assessment. Contemporary clinical risk evaluation during pregnancy includes an assessment of external and social sources of risk, such as domestic violence, homelessness, and socioeconomic status. The accumulating data about the birth outcomes among Haitian women living in the United States underscores their biomedical risk status. However, it is important for clinicians to also have a more nuanced understanding of the influence of contemporary Haitian culture on risk during pregnancy to accurately assess a woman's risk status. Using ethnographic methods, including participant observation and interviews with pregnant women as well as their providers, this project examines the gender, class, and sociopolitical experiences among pregnant Haitian women living in South Florida. Findings have important implications for clinical risk assessment within prenatal care.