Homeless women’s experiences of social support from service providers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth W. Lindsey, Professor Emeritus (Creator)
Tracy R. Nichols, Associate Professor and Doctoral Program Coordinator (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine homeless women's interactions with service providers and the degree to which these interactions are perceived as social support.Design/methodology/approach – Using a phenomenological approach, in-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with 15 homeless women recruited through a drop-in day shelter and a winter emergency shelter.Findings – Analysis revealed being “cared for” was experienced within service provider encounters and is commensurate with widely recognized sub-categories of received social support. Participants expressed expanded definitions of service providers and made clear distinctions between routine support expected from a provider and received social support, or being “cared for” by providers.Research limitations/implications – Studies with homeless persons that exclude service providers as a potential source of social support for homeless women or impose predetermined definitions of service provision may not be capturing the full range of participant encounters, relationships, networks, and experiences.Practical implications – Widely used social support measures could serve as a guide for creating education programs for persons who work with homeless people including: professional service providers, students likely to become service providers, paraprofessionals, nonprofessionals, and volunteers.Originality/value – Homeless women's voices have been added to the debate regarding whether social support is within the realm of service provision.

Additional Information

Journal of Public Mental Health, 12(3), 136-145
Language: English
Date: 2013
Women, Homeless, Phenomenology, Qualitative research, Social support

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