In Health and Social Care, Sara Jacoby and colleagues, including Terry Guerra, Douglas Wiebe, and Therese Richmond, investigate the health and well-being of single-parent families in public housing, and living in violent neighborhoods. The authors designed a two-phase, mixed methods study: in phase 1, data collected using standardized health status instruments were used to describe the health of the participating families in comparison to population norms; in phase 2, daily activity mapping, surveys and interviews of parents and children were collected to assess how these family perceive their health and neighborhood, and the influence of neighborhood characteristics on their daily experience. Interviews and activity maps were combined with police crime data to analyze the relationship between crime and perceptions of fear and safety.
The authors find that parent participants met or exceeded the national average for self-reported physical health, but fell below the national average across all mental health domains. Parents described high levels of stress resulting from competing priorities, financial instability and concern for their children’s well-being and safety. Neighborhood characteristics influence parents’ perceptions of their environment and how they allow their children to move within it. This study points to the need for robust support and interventions for housing-unstable families who live in neighborhoods with high levels of violence.