Nursing Publications

A Comparison of Individual and Social Vulnerabilities, Health, and Quality of Life among Canadian Women with Mental Diagnoses and Young Children

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Women's Health Issues





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Purpose: This study examined whether differences exist among women with mental health issues who had either young, adult, or no children in relation to their individual and social vulnerabilities, health, and quality of life.

Methods: The design of this study was a secondary quantitative analysis of data extracted from a larger Canadian 5-year study focused on mental health and housing. This study’s sample included 234 female psychiatric consumer/survivors: 108 (46%) women reported having no children, 68 (29%) had at least one child younger than 18 years of age, and 58 (25%) had children 18 years of age or older. The women completed structured interviews between 2004 and 2006.

Findings: Seventy-nine percent of mothers were separated from their young children. In comparison with women with older children and those without children, women with young children were more often homeless, had fewer strengths/resources, greater physical but lower cognitive/intellectual functioning, and a low perception of quality of life regarding their financial situation. In addition, women with young children reported the greatest problem with substance use and poorest quality of life regarding daily activities, health, and overall quality of life. These results, however, were mediated by the confounding effects of housing. No differences were identified between groups regarding utilization of health and social services.

Conclusion: These findings support the need for early integrated health and social interventions that assist women achieve their well-being.

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