Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2022

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Elizabeth A. Mosley PhD, MPH

Second Advisor

Natasha De Veauuse Brown PhD, MPH


Introduction: Studies have shown that poor birth outcomes are more prevalent among Black birthing people and their babies. Evidence shows that doula care, during labor and delivery, improves maternal and child health outcomes. However there are varying attitudes among doctors and nurses towards doulas regarding taking a collaborative approach with birthing people in labor. Conflict and tension due to doulas may occur in some intrapartum settings in the United States, however this capstone examines these attitudes within the state of Georgia.

Methods: Between November 2020 and January 2021, 17 surveys and in-depth interviews were conducted with doulas in Georgia as part of the community-based participatory Georgia Doula Study, co-led by Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia and academic researchers. The objective of this sub-study was to describe the interprofessional challenges and facilitators of providing doula care in healthcare settings in Georgia.

Results: Doula participants were diverse in age (41% 25-35, 35% 36-45, and 24% 46+) and race/ethnicity (53% white, 41% Black, 6% Latinx). About half (45%) of the participants had a negative encounter with doctors and/or nurses, yet the respondents described positive benefits of when doulas, doctors, and nurses work together. The main themes found were: 1) interprofessional dynamics are unique to each doula and medical care team; 2) doulas are and should be treated as important members of the birth team; and 3) partnerships between doulas and medical/midwifery providers are mutually beneficial but require bidirectional learning and respect.

Conclusion: More research is needed about how doulas, doctors, and nurses can effectively collaborate on the birthing team. It is important to understand that doulas have a specific scope of work and are not meant to overstep into medical care, but they are an essential member of the birthing team providing support to the birthing person. Education for doctors and nurses on the role of doulas and their scope of work is crucial to improve interprofessional dynamics and optimize birth outcomes. To improve maternal and child health especially amongst low-income Black birthing people in Georgia, doula care plays a vital role. Effective integration of doula care—particularly for Black communities in relatively high-mortality regions like the Southeast—has the potential to saves lives, improve equity, and empower birthing people.


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