Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Department

Nursing

Thesis Committee Chairperson

Diane Ryan, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, FNP-BC, GNP-BC

Second Reader

Karen Shareno, MSN, RN

Abstract

The lived experience of African-American women with depression represents a blind spot in the healthcare industry. Factors such as: normalization, intersectionality, finances, religion, racism, silencing the self, being raised to be strong/independent women, social stigma, relationships (both with intimate partners and with family/friends), being the head of the household/family, and limited access to representational/sympathetic health care present specific barriers to being diagnosed with/obtaining treatment for depression among African-American women.

This research used the Colaizzi's method to analyze the phenomenological experiences of four African American women who experience depression. The four participants were found via a church flyer (appendix B). They have experience with medication, but they were screened to find participants who do not abuse substances, to pare down the variables that would influence their experiences. Their interview transcripts were sorted, coded and tagged into charts. The themes that emerged showed that African-American women can benefit from further research regarding their specific experiences with depression.

Overall, African-American women with depression say they could benefit from health care screenings that include specific questions about depression, community support, familial support, and a network of women who are knowledgeable about the specific challenges that accompany depression. The data suggest that adjustments in the ontogenic systems and microsystems, and macroculture that surround lived experiences of African-American women to recategorize what is considered "normal" in the African-American community could be helpful in the diagnosis and treatment of African-American women with depression going forward.

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