AuthorMarelic Jonas, Elza Maria
Committee ChairBerg, Judith
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractOne of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population in the United States is families, with women and their children heading up to 90% of these families. African-Americans represent a disproportionate number within the homeless population. Homelessness is a devastating experience for women and their children who often seek an emergency homeless shelter as their only option for temporary housing. This grounded theory study explored how homeless African-American mothers and their children defined their health and managed and obtained their health for themselves and their children within the context of an emergency homeless shelter. The grounded theory of Layered Stressors emerged after fifteen homeless African-American mothers were interviewed. Health was perceived by the participants as “having your own.” In the first stage, a perceived “loss of self-control” or loss of autonomy was given over to the shelter. In the second stage, homeless mothers experienced layered stressors which consisted of “following the shelter’s rules,” “living with strangers,” “mothering in public,” “changed behaviors of their children,” “smoking more,” “feeling trapped, helpless and powerless,” “shared infectious illnesses.” Chronic stress affects an individual’s physical, psychological and social make-up and may contribute to allostatic load, the cumulative biologic burden exacted on the body and brain. McEwen (2002) described allostatis, and allostatic load as stressors. Allostatic load may contribute to chronic medical illnesses.