Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social and Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Sunny Jung Kim

Second Advisor

Dina Garcia

Third Advisor

Bassam Dahman

Fourth Advisor

B. Ethan Costom

Fifth Advisor

Susan Bodnar-Deren


Background: Exposure to racism and discrimination in the U.S. increases Black women’s risk for experiencing maternal health disparities. Additionally, racism and discrimination affect maternal psychosocial well-being, creating evidence for a biopsychosocial relationship between racism and maternal health outcomes. However, current research does not define the psychosocial Black maternal self well. Given the dynamic relationship between racism, psychosocial well-being, and Black maternal health outcomes, research must comprehensively examine the Black maternal self. The operationalization of a comprehensive construct for Black maternal psychosocial well-being can improve understanding of the relationship between racism, psychosocial well-being, and Black maternal health outcomes.

Purpose: This dissertation presents the Black maternal self-concept as a psychosocial construct comprising Black women’s perceptions and beliefs about the Black maternal self. This dissertation’s objectives are to 1) define the dimensions and 2) develop a measure of the Black maternal self-concept.

Method: Through a scoping review of adult health and racism research, this dissertation used full-text analysis with 38 articles to develop a conceptual taxonomy of the general self-concept. Using a transcendental phenomenological approach, interviews were conducted with Black women who recently gave birth in the U.S. (n =10). Thematic analysis of interview data was used to identify themes and subthemes of Black maternal self-concept development. Lastly, the Black Maternal Self-Concept Model (BMSCM) was defined, and a pool of items was generated and tested in an online survey with Black women who recently gave birth (n = 26). The pool of items was modified and disseminated through the Black Maternal Self-Concept Inventory (BMSCI) in an online survey of Black women who recently gave birth (n = 265). Item analyses were used to select the final items in the BMSCI, and factor analyses were performed to assess its dimensionality.

Results: The scoping review identified a hierarchical, multidimensional model of self-concept that includes identity, identity beliefs, and ability beliefs as primary dimensions. Interviews with Black women (n = 10) supported that Black maternal self-concept development involves assessments of Black maternal identity, identity beliefs, and ability beliefs. The BMSCM was operationalized as a hierarchical, multidimensional model comprising eight sub-dimensions across identity, identity beliefs, and ability beliefs. The 33-item BMSCI partially supports the hierarchical, multidimensional structure of the BMSCM. The BMSCI measures Black maternal identity centrality, exploration, private and public regard, advocacy self-efficacy, and role beliefs, where centrality and exploration are predicted hierarchically by Black maternal identity. No identified evidence supported identity beliefs and ability beliefs as hierarchical dimensions in the BMSCI.

Conclusions: This dissertation presents evidence that the Black maternal self-concept is a hierarchical, multidimensional model that we define through the BMSCM. Provided evidence shows that the 33-item BMSCI partially measures the dimensions of the BMSCM. Future research suggestions and evidence are provided to support further examination of self-conceptualization as a mechanistic pathway by which exposure to racism affects the physical, mental, and psychosocial health and well-being of Black women who give birth.


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Available for download on Monday, December 04, 2023