PHILADELPHIA (May 2, 2016) – Billions of dollars are spent annually to support single-parent families in low-income urban communities — most often for affordable housing — yet little is known about the relationship between health and well-being of housing program participants and life in violent neighborhoods in US cities.
A study led by the University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) found that single parents who participate in a housing support program in an urban setting with high levels of community violence had significant symptoms of stress and depression. Parents report high levels of stress resulting from competing priorities, expectations that they attain financial self-sufficiency through concurrent employment and higher education, and concern for their children's safety. Reports of children's emotional symptoms, conduct problems, peer problems and poorer emotional-behavioral health were significantly higher for children with parents who had moderate-severe depression symptoms when compared to those whose parents had lower levels of depression symptoms. Results point to the need for further research and programmatic and policy interventions that support the overall health of housing unstable families who live in low-resource neighborhoods with high levels of violence. The research is set for publication in an upcoming issue of Health and Social Care in the Community, but is available online now.
This two-year academic-community partnered mixed-methods study was led by Sara F. Jacoby, PhD, MPH, RN, who recently completed her PhD at Penn Nursing. Therese S. Richmond, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, the Andrea B. Laporte Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Research & Innovation at the School, was the senior author of the study.
Jacoby is an interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellow in the Penn Injury Science Center. Her research interests focus on the social and systemic factors that perpetuate inequities in injury prevention and outcomes for populations living in the United States and globally.
Richmond conducts studies focused on the interaction of physical injuries and their psychological after-effects in order to reduce the impact of violence on individuals, families and communities. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Penn Injury Science Center and a Senior Fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania.
Funding was provided by the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Societies Program at University of Pennsylvania and the National Institute of Nursing Research under award number F31NR0113599.
The study team also consisted of: Laura Tach PhD, Assistant Professor, Cornell University College of Human Ecology; Douglas Wiebe, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Biostatistics & Epidemiology; and Terry Guerra, formerly Director of Special Projects at ACHIEVEability.
Editor's Note: There are no conflicts of interest to report.
About the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
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