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Community Ment Health J. 2017 Oct;53(7):832-841. doi: 10.1007/s10597-017-0093-z. Epub 2017 Feb 6.

A Mixed Methods Investigation of the Experience of Poverty Among a Population of Low-Income Parenting Women.

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Department of Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford University, Barnett House, 32 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2ER, UK.
Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, 40 Temple Street, Suite #6B, New Haven, CT, USA.
National Diaper Bank Network, 155 East Street, Suite 101, New Haven, CT, USA.
The Diaper Bank, P.O. Box 9017, New Haven, CT, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA.


This study sought to operationalize poverty in the context of parenting specific to a sample of low-income mothers; to examine how mothers describe sources of stress related to poverty; and to explore how these experiences affect mothers' parenting practices. Mothers trained in research methods administered surveys to other mothers in community settings assessing parenting stressors, mental wellbeing, basic needs, and goals. Women reported difficulty obtaining basic needs. Qualitatively, women described financial hardship, housing, employment status, and transportation as sources of stress, which influenced their parenting practices. These findings connect a mother's inability to meet her basic needs with parenting quality, and suggest that programs promoting early childhood development through building the capacity of parents must focus on basic needs and strategies to alleviate poverty. Healthcare providers may be able to glean specific terminology utilized by women when they inquire about basic needs and form partnerships with basic needs providers.


Basic needs; Maternal mental health; Needs assessment; Poverty; Psychological stress

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