COEXISTENCE OF PREGNANCY AND HOMELESSNESS

Summary

Principal Investigator: Cheryl Killion
Abstract: The specific aims of this study are 1) to delineate, from the perspective of pregnant women, the antecedents of their homelessness; 2) to describe the means by which women cope with the unique problems that emerge as a consequence of the coexistence of pregnancy and homelessness; 3) to describe environmental conditions under which a pregnant, homeless woman must live; 4) to document maternal/fetal/newborn status and outcomes during homelessness; 5) to describe efforts made on behalf of and by the women to alter their homeless status during the childbearing cycle. When pregnancy compounds the precarious state of homelessness, the situation is particularly volatile since many of the conditions often associated with homelessness have also been independently linked with adverse effects and outcomes during the childbearing cycle. Circumstances associated with homelessness such as stress and anxiety, social isolation, poverty, malnutrition, substance abuse, psychological disorders, and poor utilization of health services, have also been associated with complications of pregnancy, dysfunctional labor and difficult delivery, fetal distress,; maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality, and dysfunctional parenting. Participant observation will be the primary data collection approach to provide indepth descriptions of 45 homeless pregnant women. Other procedures include focused observations, interviews, life histories, diaries, and documents. Because the research will evolve primarily from the perspective of the homeless, pregnant women studied relevant health care and social services can be developed that are specifically designed to meet their needs. As a consequence, the services are more likely to be utilized. Specific strategies for counseling and educating the women can be developed and implemented after learning what their concerns, practices, and coping styles are. Data from the study will also yield evidence of the status of housing needs of low-income persons that will facilitate the formulation of more pertinent policies regarding regulations for physical and psychological conditions of the accommodations for the homeless. Improved service, policies, and research not only will benefit the homeless and abate a portentous future for their children, it will also diminish the social and economic cost to the general population, particularly within the realm of prevention of communicable diseases and in diminishing the amount of tax monies spent on health care service for indigent population.
Funding Period: 1989-07-15 - 1992-08-31
more information: NIH RePORT