Increasing Access to Doulas to Support a Diverse Population


Evidence of doulas’ positive impacts on maternal health outcomes, particularly among underserved populations, supports expanding access. Health workforce-related barriers challenge the development of robust doula services in the United States. We investigated organizations’ barriers regarding training, recruitment, and employment of doulas. We conducted literature and policy reviews and 16 semi-structured interviews with key informants who contribute to state policymaking and from organizations involved in training, certifying, advocating for, and employing doulas. Our study shows barriers to more robust doula services, including varying roles and practices, prohibitive costs of training and certification, and insufficient funding. This study underscores the importance of doulas in providing support to clients from underserved populations. Health workforce-related challenges remain, especially for community-based organizations seeking to serve underserved communities.

Lead Researcher: Marieke van Eijk, PhD
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HRSA: HWRC Health Equity






Authors Title Type Date Documents/Media
Guenther G, Kett P, Skillman SM, Frogner BK The Birth Doula Workforce in the U.S.: Rapid Response Brief PUBLICATION 08-22-2022
Rapid Response Brief
Van Eijk E, Guenther GA, Jopson AD, Skillman SM, Frogner BK Health workforce challenges impact the development of robust doula services for underserved populations in the United States PUBLICATION 07-31-2022 Article
Van Eijk MS, Guenther GA, Kett PM, Jopson AD, Frogner BK, Skillman SM Addressing systemic racism in birth doula services to reduce health inequities in the United States. PUBLICATION 02-02-2022 Article
Guenther G, Kett P Birth Doulas Addressing Systemic Racism in Underserved Communities PRESENTATION 12-15-2022 Media
Guenther G, Kett P Addressing Systemic Racism in Birth Doula Services to Improve Health PRESENTATION 06-15-2021
Guenther G, Kett P Addressing Systemic Racism to Improve Health Through Birth Doula Services PRESENTATION 05-06-2021