Using an Optimality Index to Understand Perinatal Health Disparities: A Pilot Study With Latina Immigrants

J Transcult Nurs. 2014 Jul;25(3):265-72. doi: 10.1177/1043659614522302. Epub 2014 Feb 11.


Purpose: This study demonstrates preliminary evidence of the utility of an optimality index as a simple tool for monitoring complications across the perinatal period.

Method: The medical records of 147 Latina women participating in a preventive randomized controlled trial for perinatal depression were reviewed for outcomes across the perinatal period.

Results: Application of the optimality index found optimality scores ranging from 77.3% to 97.7% in a Latina immigrant population known to have low rates of low-birthweight infants and preterm birth. Optimality scores were significantly lower among women who had a preterm birth or low-birthweight infant.

Discussion: The ability of optimality indices to capture within-group variability will allow for a more nuanced understanding of the antecedents and sequelae of negative birth outcomes.

Implications for practice: Increasing reliance on electronic medical records will facilitate the calculation of optimality scores that can be used to track patterns of perinatal health disparities.

Keywords: optimality; perinatal; postpartum; pregnancy; prenatal.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Perinatal Care / methods
  • Perinatal Care / standards*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / ethnology
  • Premature Birth / ethnology
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / ethnology