Background: Disadvantaged women in the United States experience disparities in prenatal and birth related health outcomes. Purpose: The purpose of this literature review is to answer the question, “Can freestanding birth centers (FBC) improve outcomes for disadvantaged populations?” Results: FBCs do improve outcomes for disadvantaged populations in mode of delivery, low birth weight, prematurity, breastfeeding continuance, enhanced social support, and decreased familial stress, without additional risk for adverse outcomes. FBCs showed a demonstrable financial benefit through decreased facility fees, delivery charges, and fewer costs associated with the adverse health outcomes of cesarean sections, low birth weight, and premature infants. Conclusion: To meet Healthy People 2020 goals government policies should facilitate further FBC expansion and utilization across the country. Non-profit organizations should consider teaming with FBCs to reach out to underserved women in their communities. Medicaid should expand its coverage for all FBCs; private insurance companies should also be encouraged to include FBCs within their provider networks. Implications for Research and Practice: Research is currently lacking in Level I and Level II studies. The majority of the research focused on comparisons of a single FBC site against a nearby hospital. Future research should target tackling the challenges of creating Level I and Level II studies, and broaden the number of sites sampled in qualitative and retrospective studies, in order to strengthen the current gaps in research.
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Dabrowski, M. M. (2016). Birth Centers and Underserved Populations [Masterʼs thesis, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/147