Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


African American women-Health and hygiene, African American women-Family relationships, African American families, Influence (Psychology), Communication in families, Help-seeking behavior, Family, Narrative, Influence


African American women are more likely than those in any other ethnic group to die from heart disease, cancer, and stroke and are less likely to seek treatment. The literature suggests that healthcare patters are passed down through generations and that familial influences have a significant impact on healthcare behaviors, independent of other factors known to influence healthcare access such as poverty. The aim of this exploratory study was to pilot an innovative, multi-modal protocol designed to facilitate a discussion about personal healthcare narratives and the influence of previous generations on health-related attitudes. Methods: convenience sampling recruited seven young African American women, ages twenty three to thirty, who agreed to participate after reviewing the informed consent. The protocol included structured interview questions, an interactive story-board organizing around "circles of influence," a survey of preventative health practices, and open ended questions. Interviews were transcribed and digital photographs were taken of participant storyboards for later analysis. Findings: The interactive nature of the protocol helped to facilitate detailed discussion and was a relatively easy way to capture data for later analysis. Participants described a wide range of relatives and associates within their circles of influence. An unexpected finding was the impact of having children on current healthcare choices of women in the sample.




v, 78 p. : ill. (some col.) Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 55-60)