Inspiring Minds seeks to broaden awareness and impact of graduate student research, while enhancing transferable skills. Students were challenged to describe their research, scholarship or creative activity in 150 or fewer words to share with our community.



Health Inequalities in Maternal & Child Health: Effects of COVID-19 Hospital Policies on Marginalized Populations

Amid rapidly evolving scientific data, were hospitals employing evidenced-based policymaking during the COVID-19 pandemic? This research takes up calls to examine maternity wards where emerging research highlights the negative mental health impacts of policies such as "Birthing Alone" during the pandemic (Friesen et al., 2021). Cumulative Inequality Theory suggests that these impacts may have negative health consequences on later life outcomes for mothers and infants. This study employs a three-pronged approach: a content analysis of hospital policies within maternity wards in Ontario; a quantitative analysis examining odds of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality depending on race and socioeconomic background; and a qualitative review of maternal agency/privilege by interviewing mothers that selected home births over hospital births during the pandemic. Much like previous pandemics, COVID-19 has exacerbated social inequalities (Mamelund & Dimka, 2021), thus making it imperative that we examine mechanisms to alleviate negative health impacts on vulnerable populations.

Maria Ahmed
PhD candidate, Sociology
Faculty of Social Science - Western University

Kim Shuey
Tracey Adams


Maria Ahmed is a PhD student in the Sociology program at Western University, co-supervised by Dr. Kim Shuey and Dr. Tracey Adams. Her interests are rooted in social and structural inequalities and their impacts on population health and public policy. Maria completed her undergraduate degree in Commerce at Queen’s University with a focus on organizational behaviour. Her master’s degree in Leadership & Policy at University of Toronto built on this understanding of organizations by examining private religious schools as sources of advantages and disadvantages for particular populations. Building on her background on social structures, Maria’s dissertation research is examining sources of advantages/disadvantages for racialized populations within hospitals. You can connect with Maria on LinkedIn: and Twitter:

View Maria's work as it appears in the Inspiring Minds Digital Collection:

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