Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Diane C. Hatton, DNSc, RN, APRN, BC, Chairperson; Susan L. Instone, DNSc, RN, CPNP; Dorothy Kleffel, DNSc, RN, MPH


formerly incarcerated, Grounded theory, healthcare encounters, nurse-patient relationship, nursing, patients, women


The adult correctional population in the United States soared to nearly 7 million people (Bureau of Justice Statistics [BJS], 2005). Over 2 million individuals were housed in prisons or jails in the United States. Nearly 7 percent (6.9%) were women (BJS, 2005). Recent trends in the adult correctional population suggest that there has been a stark increase in the number of formerly incarcerated women in the United States. The purpose of this research was to explore how formerly incarcerated women perceived their healthcare encounters. The aims of this study were to answer the following questions. How did formerly incarcerated women perceive healthcare encounters? How did they describe difficult healthcare encounters? How did they describe successful healthcare encounters? What did they suggest to improve healthcare encounters? A grounded theory method was used. The study consisted of interviews with 16 formerly incarcerated women at two different sites. Perspectives on healthcare encounters by formerly incarcerated women were explored utilizing a combination of individual and focus groups interviews. Findings revealed the core category of an action/process during encounters of "going back-and-forth" within the context of a fragmented healthcare system. Participants sought care for multiple health problems. They often lacked money, health insurance, literacy, and knowledge. These problems prevented them from achieving successful healthcare encounters where their needs would be met. Other barriers to successful encounters were a lack of disclosure and stigmatization that sometimes led to feelings of shame and poor self-esteem. When helpful others such as friends, nurses, and/or caring providers were present, the participants experienced successful healthcare encounters where their needs were met. The findings also revealed that some women, through persistence, realized positive encounters even when no helpful others and/or caring providers were there to assist them. This study was important because it generated a substantive explanation regarding the perspectives on healthcare encounters by formerly incarcerated women. This study has the potential for developing new knowledge to inform nursing. This research also affords healthcare providers an opportunity to improve the healthcare of formerly incarcerated women and their families.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons