Theses Master's

Mapping Maternal Mortality in New York City: Resilient Journeys in the Face of Disparities

Dickinson, Grace

This capstone project, entitled “Mapping Maternal Mortality in NYC: Resilient Journeys in the Face of Disparities” was conducted on behalf of Lynn Freedman and Sang Hee Won at the Averting Maternal Death and Disability Lab (AMDD) at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. Their team conducted a two-and-a-half-year study to better understand the experiences of minority women in New York City during pregnancy and child birth. The AMDD team conducted qualitative research, consisting of interviews and focus groups, with pregnant and post-partum women, their partners, and their providers. Their conversations revealed that on both ends broken trust and, specifically for the women, a lack of social support. For my urban planning capstone project, I used GIS tools to try to better understand the role that the built environment plays in trust and support, in order to better inform policy that could help to rebuild trust and support in communities. With the understanding that most low-income, or generally low-resourced women seek care within their communities, and knowing the role that health insurance, poverty, community understanding, and race play in the choice to seek care and care received, I identified high need neighborhoods and communities within New York City. Upon trying to map the care journeys these women take, our team discovered there was no existing spatial data publicly or privately available locating hospitals, community health centers, or any prenatal care facilities within their communities. I collected information from a wide range of sources to build out such a map, which the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has already requested access to. These maps, in addition to proposed metrics of spatially measuring social capital, have been useful to AMDD as they plan to embark on targeted interventions and partnerships within the identified high need communities.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Hutson, Malo A.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 12, 2020