Betsy Sleath, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Families headed by women represent a fast growing segment of the homeless population and are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. While the health problems faced by the children in these families are the same as those found in all children, homeless children experience significantly more illness than children who have housing. Appropriate medication use could help keep homeless mothers and their children healthy, however there is little information in the medical and research communities about the experiences of homeless women and children who are trying to take medications appropriately.In this pilot study funded by The University of North Carolina Research Council, Dr. Sleath is working with the Wake County Continuum-of-Care Collaborative (CCC) to learn more about the problems that homeless women encounter when trying to follow medications prescribed for themselves and their children and to achieve the following aims:
- To describe the concerns and experiences of homeless women surrounding appropriate medication use for themselves and their children
- To describe what homeless women feel could be done to improve their ability to take and give their children medications that are recommended by physicians.
- To investigate how medical literacy influences homeless men’s preferences for receiving medication information.
- To describe how often women believe an illness they or their children have prevents them from going to work.
Researchers are working with case managers who provide care to homeless women and children at numerous sites across Wake County, NC. The case managers explain the study to women who are taking at least one prescription medication and, if the women give their consent, researchers interview them for a half hour asking questions about the following areas: (a) the medical conditions that the women and their children have and where they receive health care, (b) their experiences in trying to take medication regimens, (c) medical literacy, (d) how they would like to receive more information about their medications, (e) how they believe medication services could be improved, and (f) how often they miss work because of illness. Women will be recruited over a period of 12 months; the recruitment number is 120 women.The data analyses period will last three months and will include four parts. First we will describe the concerns and experiences of homeless women surrounding appropriate medication use for themselves and their children. Next we will describe what homeless women feel could be done to improve their ability to take and give their children medications recommended by physicians. Third, we will conduct a multi-nominal logistic regression to examine how medical literacy influences homeless women’s preferences for receiving medication information verbally, in written format, or both verbally and in written format. We will control for patient age, ethnicity, and years of education in the analysis. Finally, we will describe how often women believe an illness they or their children have prevents them from going to work.