Let the Circle be Unbroken: Health of Elderly Southern Appalachian Widows
Review TypeNone: Degree-based Submission
Repository Posting Date2019-06-03T17:14:21Z
Author(s)Hardin, Sonya Renae
Author DetailsSonya Renae Hardin, PhD, RN
Lead Author Sigma AffliationNon-member
Level of EvidenceEthnography
Research ApproachQualitative Research
CINAHL HeadingsWidows and Widowers -- Psychosocial Factors -- Appalachian Region; Life Experiences -- In Old Age; Health Beliefs -- In Old Age; Spirituality -- In Old Age; Women's Health -- In Old Age; Widows and Widowers -- Psychosocial Factors; Life Experiences; Health Beliefs; Spirituality; Women's Health; Widows and Widowers
The purpose of this study was to facilitate discovery and description of the health experience from the perspective of elderly Appalachian widows. The concepts of health, health beliefs, and health practices were explored using the qualitative research design of ethnography. A purposive sample consisted of ten native women ranging in age from 68 to 90 from a Southern Appalachian county in western North Carolina. Data collection took place over a six-month period. Data were generated using the following techniques: participant observation, interviews, field notes, health diaries, photography, and document analysis. Ethnographic analysis yielded domains, categories, and themes from the data. Four domains were derived from the data using ethnographic analysis, including: No Longer a Couple, Existing Day to Day, Living the Right Way, and Staying Healthy. The domain, No Longer a Couple reflected the women's experience of widowhood. Existing Day to Day encompassed daily life which included planning, family and activities. The third domain, Living the Right Way uncovered moral issues related to values and God. Lastly, Staying Healthy included physical and mental activities and health as related to health beliefs. Six major themes were revealed from the data and are listed in sentence form. A rebirth occurred with the loss of a husband which required the emergence of inner strength to endure living with loneliness in a crowd. Anticipation of the future and reflection of the past guided the women toward a healthy and competent existence. A strong commitment to God fostered health and prepared the women for their future death. A unity of family and friends nurtured the women. A moral sense of concern for others facilitated one's own state of health. Retaining intellectual faculties was an imperative dimension of health for these older women. The themes were woven into a metaphor found within the Appalachian culture--Let the Circle Be Unbroken--a hymn. The major findings were: (1) the emergence of a nonstereotypical image of elderly Appalachian widows; (2) the identification of the tacit presence of the women's husbands in their lives; and (3) a new understanding of health from the female perspective.
DescriptionThis dissertation has also been disseminated through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. Dissertation/thesis number: 9106844; ProQuest document ID: 303914648. The author still retains copyright.
Advisor(s)Magilvy, Joan K.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Colorado Health Sciences Center
NotesThis item has not gone through this repository's peer-review process, but has been accepted by the indicated university or college in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the specified degree.
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