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Public Health Nurs. 2011 May-Jun;28(3):233-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1446.2010.00913.x. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Low-income Euro-American mothers' perceptions of health and self-care practices.

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School of Nursing, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-1029, USA.



Health promotion activities may decrease preventable diseases and health system overuse. This study examined how low-income Euro-American mothers described their health/wellness, self-care practices (SCP), and SCP benefits, barriers, and interpersonal influences (norms, modeling, and social support) affecting their SCP.


This descriptive qualitative study used a convenience sample of 10 low-income, English-speaking mothers, 25-43 years old, seeking women's/children's health services at a large urban Texas health clinic.


Data were collected via face-to-face interviews, using a standardized semistructured interview guide; data were analyzed using Miles and Huberman's qualitative research methods.


All participants primarily described themselves positively and as mothers and workers. Most viewed health and wellness as distinct but typically included physical and emotional well-being. Mothers valued health and SCP for personal and family reasons. All identified SCP benefits. Most identified SCP barriers. Women viewed themselves as vital to family function and well-being, learned SCP primarily from parents during childhood, and described limited support for SCP.


The results provide a better understanding of participants' self-care decision making and are useful in designing appropriate clinical health promotions. Reducing health inequities in low-income women requires further study of the underlying causes and development of effective policies and measures to address them.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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