Culture Care Meanings, Beliefs, Lifeways, and Care Experiences of African American Parents Related to Infant Mortality and Sleep Positioning

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sherry Hartman

Advisor Department



This ethnonursing study describes culture care meanings, perceptions, and views of African American parents related to infant mortality, infant sleep positioning, and health promotion. The need for the study arises from the increased incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and the resultant disparity in infant mortality among African American infants. African American infants are disproportionately affected by SIDS and the lack of successful health promotion programs regarding safe infant sleep position is offered as a contributing factor. Information obtained in this inquiry can be used to articulate and understand African American parents' perceptions of interactions with healthcare providers and to discover the barriers to this group's adherence with health care recommendations for safe infant sleep position. Interviews with African American parents of infants most at risk for SIDS were conducted in an attempt to document care expressions perceived by parents to be valuable and meaningful. Data analysis indicated that African American mothers valued care from friendly, attentive nurses who also included recipients' family members in nursing care. The themes that emerged from the data were (a) presence of the nurse, (b) family as support, and (c) knowledge is protecting. Care was perceived as meaningful and trustworthy when recipients felt respected by nurses. As a result of receiving respectful care that is responsive to their values and beliefs, mothers in the current study indicated that they felt more confident in the health care recommendations of nurses. These findings are consistent with current literature confirming the relationship between care recipients' perceptions of care and their adherence to health teachings.