Author(s)

Carmen Alexis

Date Approved

7-24-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Department

Educational Leadership

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Coaxum, James

Subject(s)

African American women--Health

Disciplines

Other Educational Administration and Supervision

Abstract

African American women contribute disproportionately to disease in the United States. Researchers have repeatedly turned to issues related to poverty, access to medical care, and stress to explain this syndrome, however studies have shown that the disparities persist even in the absence of poverty and impaired access. Stress remains a constant in every discussion of disease in African American women, but what is it that fuels their particular brand of stress and how does it impact the health of African American women? The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore the perceptions held by African American women in the areas of health and wellness using the frameworks of Critical Race Theory and Black Feminist Thought. Inherent in this process was an examination of society's treatment of African American Women as a factor in the measure of the allostatic load they endure. This study also incorporated the concepts of making meaning and self-efficacy as a means of conceptualizing the experience of the participants. Observations of wellness support group meetings and the analysis of nine focus group sessions yielded themes suggesting the need for companionship, increased avenues of support and nurturing, as well as the creation of culturally relevant, health assessment standards and tools.

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