Document Type


Publication Date



Objectives: To examine sociodemographic, psychosocial concerns, and structural barriers associated with women's participation in the USDA's Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program among those eligible for the program.

Design and Sample: 1,634 White, African American, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander (A/Pl) women from the New York City area completed the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) from 2004-2007, a population-based survey.

Measurements: Data on WIC eligibility and participation, sociodemographic details, unintended pregnancy, social support, and structural barriers were evaluated.

Results: Hispanics and Blacks were 4.1 and 2.4 times more likely to participate, respectively, in the WIC program relative to Whites. Mothers reporting unplanned pregnancies, fewer social supports, and more structural barriers (e.g., transportation) were less likely to participate in WIC. Race-stratified analyses revealed race/ethnic differences in the pattern of barriers; unintended pregnancy and structural problems were barriers associated with WIC participation particularly for A/Pl.

Conclusions: WIC-eligible women with unintended pregnancies and fewer social supports tend to participate in WIC, but those who experience more structural barriers are less likely to participate. A/Pl women may face specific challenges to WIC participation. Careful attention is needed to understand the unique attitudes and behaviors in the process of participating in WIC.


Asian Americans, health care disparities, PRAMS, secondary data analysis, prenatal care, public assistance, social support

Publication Title

Public Health Nursing

Publication Citation

33 Public Health Nursing 395 (2016)