Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 51-63 © 2005 Uppincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
Health-Promoting Behaviors of Sheltered Homeless Women
Meg Wilson, PhD, RN
To expand the body of knowledge and provide further insight into the complex area of homelessness and health, health practices of sheltered homeless women were investigated using a crosssectional, descriptive, and non-experimental design using Pender's Health Promotion Model as the theoretical framework. The sample (w = 137) was weU educated, mostly unemployed, primarily single, and homeless due to relationship problems/conflict per self-report. Homeless women were noted to practice health-promoting behaviors in all areas but scored the lowest on physical activity and nutrition. Significantfindingsreflected women's personal strengths and resources in the areas of spiritual grovrth and interpersonal relations. Keywords: health disparities, health promotion,
hometessness, quantitative research, women's health
acute and chronic physical disorders and mental health/emotional issues.'"'" Few studies address the positive health practices of this vulnerable population. The ptirpose of this study was to describe sociodemographic and personal characteristics, health practices, and health-promoting behaviors in a population of sheltered homeless women in a specific Midwest geographical region to increase awareness, understanding, and provide further insight into the complex area of homelessness and health. The theoretical framework for this study was based upon Pender's revised Health Promotion Model." The Health Promotion Model (HPM) provides a framework to examine influences on participation in healthpromoting behaviors and provides direction From the Department of Nursing, School of Health for effective interventions. The HPM illusSciences, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, trates that each person is a multidimensional Indiana. holistic individual who continually interacts The author thanks her dissertation committee for support of this research project and the dissertation pro- with both interpersonal and physical envicess: L. Kathleen Sekula, PhD, APRN, Chair, Duquesne ronments and emphasizes the active role University, Pittsburgh, Pa; Rick Zoucha, DNSc, APRN, Duquesne University; and Jacquelyn Feller, PhD, Uni- of the individual in the achievement of an versity of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, Ind. This study improved healthy state. The 3 major conwas supported by grants from the St. Joseph Commustructs of the HPM (individual characterisnity Health Foundation and the Midwest Alliance for tics and experiences, behavior-specific cogHealth Education. Fort Wayne, Ind. nition and affect, and behavioral outcomes) Correspondence to: Meg Wilson, PhD, RN, Department were used to select specific study variables of Nursing, School of Health Sciences. University of Saint Francis, 2701 Spring Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46808 as conceptualized within the model. Health(e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). promoting behaviors, the outcome of the 51
OMELESSNESS IS A critical concern for all communities as the nation faces continued uncertainty in unstable economic markets and worldwide events. Throughout history, the magnitude of homelessness has fluctuated in response to current economic, political, and social environments. Society has observed homelessness change and evolve from a primarily male-oriented population to a more heterogeneous group. Today, the demographic scope of homelessness includes a rapidly growing segment of young single women, alone or accompanied by their children.''^ Health problems of the homeless have been well documented and include
& COMMUNITY HEALTH/JANUARY-MARCH 2005 clude routine preventive and health promotion care is more difficult to obtain for homeless women than for men,"*'^-^' exacerbating already serious health problems.'^ While access to care may be available at some level, several studies have documented high rates...