Gender Inequality and Maternal Mortality Studies

Description of Selected Article

The selected article for this paper is by Chirowa, Atwood, and Van der Putten (2013). They analyzed the relationship between gender inequality, health expenditure, and maternal mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their unique analysis explored gender inequality using the Gender Inequality Index (GII). Health expenditure and maternal mortality ratios were also other data metrics used to assess the variables (Chirowa et al., 2013). Although the article was supposed to represent the entire Sub-Saharan region, seven countries were explored in-depth. They included Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (Chirowa et al., 2013). Generally, the researchers found that countries that had a high GII reported high levels of maternal mortality. They also found that countries that spent less on health care reported the highest levels of maternal deaths, compared to those that had a high health care expenditure (Chirowa et al., 2013).

Research Question, Study Design, and Methods Used by the Researchers

The main research question for the chosen article was:

How do gender inequality and health expenditure affect maternal mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa?

The researchers used exploratory and descriptive designs (within the framework of a secondary document review) to answer the research question. The information gathered and reviewed were both qualitative and quantitative. The descriptive analysis was mostly used to analyze quantitative secondary data, while the content analysis method was used to assess qualitative information. The authors extracted quantitative information from the database of the World Health Organization. The data was useful in conducting an in-depth review of gender inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa using GII, MMR, and government health expenditure records. Information for the GII was obtained from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) database (Chirowa et al., 2013).

Were Study Design, Methods, and Secondary Data Sources appropriate for the Study?

I believe that the methodology chosen to answer the research question was appropriate for the selected study because of its multifaceted nature. For example, the collection of secondary data in qualitative and quantitative forms was appropriate for the study because the research question explored issues of gender inequality, which is a qualitative issue, and health expenditure, which is a quantitative issue (Shi & Johnson, 2014). The use of exploratory and descriptive designs was also justifiable because they bridged the gap between the qualitative and quantitative elements of the study (Doolan & Froelicher, 2009). The exploratory research design was instrumental in answering the qualitative elements of the study because it did not provide a conclusive or final solution to the problem. Instead, it helped to explore its different dynamics. Through its implementation, the researchers were able to have a better understanding of the problem. The descriptive research design also provided the same input when evaluating the quantitative elements of the research question (Whitener, Van Horne, & Gauthier, 2005). Stated differently, it helped the researcher to have a better understanding of how health expenditure affected maternal mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Additional Insight and Validation of Idea

The use of secondary research to explore the research topic was instrumental in gathering extensive data about maternal mortality from several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, like Shapiro, Mostashari, Hripcsak, Soulakis, and Kuperman (2011) point out, this research approach is time-sensitive and cost-effective. However, there is a need to conduct primary research to validate the findings of the secondary review. This suggestion stems from the fact that secondary reviews provide the basis for primary research. This view is supported by Smith et al. (2011), who say that primary research could help explore issues that were not adequately covered in the secondary research.


Chirowa, F., Atwood, S., & Van der Putten, M. (2013). Gender inequality, health expenditure and maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa: A secondary data analysis. Web.

Doolan, D. M., & Froelicher, E. S. (2009). Using an existing data set to answer new research questions: A methodological review. Research and Theory for Nursing Practice, 23(3), 203–215.

Shapiro, J. S., Mostashari, F., Hripcsak, G., Soulakis, N., & Kuperman, G. (2011).

Using health information exchange to improve public health. American Journal of Public Health, 101(4), 616. Web.

Shi, L., & Johnson, J. A. (Eds.). (2014). Novick& Morrow’s public health administration: Principles for population-based management (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Smith, A. K., Ayanian, J. Z., Covinsky, K. E., Landon, B. E., McCarthy, E. P., Wee C.,…Steinman, M. A. (2011). Conducting high-value secondary dataset analysis: An introductory guide and resources. J Gen Intern Med, 26(8), 920–929. Web.

Whitener, B. L., Van Horne, V. V., & Gauthier, A. K. (2005). Health services research tools for public health professionals. American Journal of Public Health, 95(2), 204–207. Web.