Beliefs, Attitudes, and Perceptions of Spirituality: A Case Study of Homeless Women in Nevada
Repository Posting Date2017-06-12T19:02:54Z
Author DetailsJene' M. Hurlbut, PhD, RN, CNE; Marcia M. Ditmyer
Lead Author Sigma AffliationGamma Sigma
Other Title(s)Care of Minority Populations
Level of EvidenceN/A
The purpose of this qualitative case study was to assess the beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of the meaning of spirituality in a cohort of sheltered homeless women in an urban area in southeast Nevada.
Fourteen (14) personal interviews were conducted at a homeless shelter located in the southwest of the United States. Open-ended questions were used to allow respondents to answer questions in their own terms or in a manner that reflects their own attitudes, beliefs, and/or perceptions rather than those of the researcher. A process for categorization the data collected was used. Respondents agreed to be tape recorded for the purpose of data collection. Only aggregate data was used for purposes of reporting. The data was subsequently transcribed, and grouped in an effort to synthesize the data into identified patterns/themes. Once identified, the themes were then looked at to better determine the beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of respondents.
The convenience sample of women meeting the inclusion criteria interviewed ranged in age from 20-68 (M=46). A majority of the women in this sample had experienced homelessness 1-2 times and had been homeless for approximately 0-3 months. From the interviews five overarching themes emerged: 1) a belief in God or a higher power, 2) a distinction between religious beliefs and spirituality, 3) a belief that there is a plan for their life, 4) spirituality and beliefs provides guidance for what is “right” and what is “wrong”, and 5) a belief that their life will improve. In their descriptions of spirituality the women often shared stories and life experiences to illustrate their understanding of this concept.
The findings of this study support the fundamental importance of spirituality in the lives of homeless women. Spirituality was acknowledged as providing hope and support and the ability to improve health and well-being. Implications from this study can help healthcare professionals to design interventions that support spiritual practices and perhaps lessen the negative impact of homelessness for these women. Moreover, healthcare professionals need to become comfortable in addressing the spiritual needs of clients, in doing so this will improve the holistic care that is provided to this marginalized and vulnerable population. During a time when rates of homeless for women have increased, further research is needed to explicate the meaning of spirituality and how this impacts their overall resiliency and health.