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Title: From darkness turning to light : a study of spirituality in homeless African American women
Author: Howell, Mary Ellen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2709 5601
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2011
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This is a qualitative study of 13 homeless African American women living in several shelters in the semi-rural South. The study focuses on their powerful stories of their lives and the trauma, abuse, substance abuse and economic problems that led them into homelessness. The study began as an ethnographic study after the model described in Leininger‟s „Stranger to Trusted Friend Enabler‟ and evolved into a creative mixed methodology of Interpretive Description that integrated elements of Ethnography, Phenomenology and Narrative. „Darkness‟ and „Turning to Light‟ is a synthesis of the participants‟ vivid narratives presented in two major themes. Darkness explores the participants‟ spiral downward into depression, drug use, abuse (physical, sexual, psychological) and economic loss to the Darkness of „Rock Bottom‟. Turning to Light follows their struggle back to „the light of life‟; becoming independent, regaining their children and their health, desiring to “help someone” and building their futures. The major theme heard as the women tell their stories is how they rely on their spiritual beliefs and practices, no matter how dark life becomes. They expressed that their spiritual connection to God nourished their soul and gave them a sense of well being and hope. Previous research cited supports the contention that their spirituality improves the prospects of healing and promotes positive health care outcomes. Understanding difficult life experiences through the homeless African American women‟s eyes provides a framework from which environments of care and interventions of change regarding social, political, religious or healthcare programs can be developed. The recognition of spirituality can lead to programs that further strengthen this source of support, hope and resilience. Nurses are in a unique position to influence the lives of these people. They meet them in emergency rooms when they are injured, in clinics when they are ill and in mental health clinics when life is overwhelming. The women identified helpful nursing characteristics: 1) respect for the patient‟s humanness, the impact of her life experiences on her current situation and prospects of healing, 2) respect for the patient‟s spirituality regardless of the nurse‟s personal beliefs, 3) acknowledgement of the humanness of the patient by being fully present during the time of the patient‟s vulnerability, and 4) holistic care.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: African American women ; Homeless women ; Spirituality