Life course patterns and risky health behaviors in incarcerated women Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
  • Harris, Nena R.
    • Affiliation: School of Nursing
  • Incarcerated women have historically been recognized as living troubled and chaotic lives. They have been identified as a high-risk population with similarities to women with HIV. Accordingly, examining the life course of incarcerated women might aid in the identification of the pathways to risk behaviors associated with HIV and other threats to physical and psychosocial well-being. Set in life course theory, this study was directed toward examining the life course patterns associated with risky health behaviors in a subset of 15 women who completed both the questionnaire and life history interview components of the Life Histories of Women in Prison, 1986-1987 study. A person-centered analysis was used to examine the distinctive variations in individuals' lives and involved the identification of life events and risky health behaviors across the life span. The analytic goal was to understand the life course pattern of each woman and its association with the onset of involvement in risky health behaviors. All women described cumulative disadvantage beginning in childhood. Women who experienced serial/overlapping disadvantage tended to become involved in risky health behaviors during pre- or early adolescence. Those experiencing isolated disadvantage were more likely to delay involvement in risky health behaviors until later in adolescence or adulthood. The findings highlight the need for early and trauma-informed interventions that take into account women's individual experiences with and responses to physical, emotional, and psychological trauma. Such interventions might help to minimize women's involvement in risky health behaviors and improve health outcomes for women with chaotic lives.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • " ... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Nursing."
  • Sandelowski, Margarete
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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