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Ph.D. Dissertation Abstracts

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The following recent PhD graduate's dissertation abstracts are not yet available on the UGA Libraries Dissertations & Thesis Database.

 

Brian W. Simmons (2017). Coming out Mormon: An examination of religious orientation, spiritual trauma, and PTSD among Mormon and ex-Morman LGBTQQA adults.

R. Lee Phillips (2017). Quality of life among hemodialysis patients:  Evaluating the KDQOL-36 and its utility in clinical practice.

Jessica Nobile (2017). Young African American women in a college town: Stories of strength.

Nicole Corley (2017). Shifting the discourse: An exploration of academic success among African American high school seniors from single mother homes.

Irang Kim (2017), Parental experiences of Korean-American immigrant parents of sons or daughters having developmental disabilities: Stress and coping.

 

Brian W. Simmons (Ph.D. '17)

Coming out Mormon: An examination of religious orientation, spiritual trauma, and PTSD among Mormon and ex-Morman LGBTQQA adults

Participation in organized religion has been correlated with various negative mental health outcomes for LGBTQQA persons, including shame, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse. However, previous research has not fully examined the impact of specific religious events on these outcomes. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between Allport & Ross’ (1967) religious orientations, orthodoxy, spiritual trauma, and PTSD in LGBTQQA Mormons and ex-Mormons. Mormonism was selected as the study’s focus population given its centralized governing structure as well as its strong doctrinal and policy restrictions against homosexuality and transgenderism.

The study used a cross-sectional online survey design. Two-hundred and seventy-eight participants were recruited primarily through LDS-affiliated LGBTQQA support and discussion groups on Facebook. Existing measures were used to collect data on religious orientation and PTSD, while the researcher developed questions to quantify spiritual trauma specific to Mormon doctrine and policies. The majority of participants (85.6%) were raised in an LDS family and half (51.8%) indicated they still attend LDS services at least monthly.

On average, participants identified 13.8 religious beliefs, teachings, or experiences as “damaging” or “extremely damaging.” A majority of participants (89.2%) likely met criteria for PTSD diagnosis related to their religious experiences. Respondent’s perception of religious experiences as damaging had a statistically significant positive effect on PTSD symptomology. Conditional process analysis did not show any significant relationship between religious orientation and orthodoxy on spiritual trauma or PTSD. Overall, the findings of this study indicate LGBTQQA Mormon and ex-Mormon adults experience a substantial amount of spiritual trauma and PTSD related to their religious experiences. Thus, it is recommended social workers incorporate religious and spiritual dimensions into assessment efforts to assess both positive and negative impacts of religious participation, with social work education providing additional training in the topics of spirituality and spiritual trauma. Implications for future research, including continued efforts to build a conceptual consensus of spiritual trauma, are also shared.
Committee members: Shari Miller (Chair), Brian Bride, Mary Caplan

 

R. Lee Phillips (Ph.D. '17)

Quality of life among hemodialysis patients:  Evaluating the KDQOL-36 and its utility in clinical practice

Quality of Life among dialysis patients can have an impact on health outcomes.  Patients undergoing hemodialysis face obstacles and intrusions into daily life that can compromise their quality of life.  The Kidney Disease Quality of Life (KDQOL) is a popular health-related quality of life survey used with dialysis patients and has undergone several revisions leading to the KDQOL-36.   The KDQOL-36 is both a general and disease-specific health quality of life survey and has been identified by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as the preferred survey for use by dialysis providers.  However, research is limited on the KDQOL-36 and its utility in clinical practice.  This dissertation, reported in three manuscripts, provides a review of the KDQOL-36 and attempts to answer if there are patient attributes that contribute to KDQOL-36 scores and if KDQOL-36 scores provide indication of clinical outcomes.
Committee members: Larry Nackerud (Chair), Tiffany Washington, Matthew Smith

 

Jessica Nobile (Ph.D. '17)

Young African American women in a college town: Stories of strength.

The purpose of this study was to collaboratively narrate risk and resilient factors experienced by young African American women living in a Southeastern college town.  The goal of this research endeavor was to help develop a storied understanding of how family, community, and school risk and resilient factors impact this population’s higher educational aspiration (or ambition), using narrative inquiry. Moreover, this study aimed to highlight what factors promoted resilience for young black women. Theory-driven thematic analysis was employed to deduce findings from the two theories that undergirded this research endeavor: critical race feminism along with risk and resilience theory. Findings of this study suggested that young black women experience the intersection of racism, sexism, and classism, along with other risk factors in their immediate environment.   Despite heightened exposure to risk, a variety of resilient factors were also present within the homes, communities, and schools under study.  Participants also shared a variety of strategies they employed as individuals that helped buffer the impact of adversity.  As such, these young women presented as highly resilient and all participants expressed a desire to pursue higher education.
Committee members: June Hopps (Chair), Tony Lowe, Rosalyn Campbell

 

Nicole Corley (Ph.D. '17)

Shifting the discourse: An exploration of academic success among African American high school seniors from single mother homes

Most research on African American students has explored the causes and consequences of academic failure.  This fixation on negative outcomes has perpetuated deficit views of African American student achievement.  Consequently, far less is known about the successful academic outcomes of African American students, generally, and those from single-mother homes, specifically.  The purpose of this study was to explore academic success as perceived and experienced by African American high school students and their single mothers. 

This qualitative study utilized a narrative inquiry approach that used in-depth, semi-structured interviews for data collection.  The sample of seven African American high school seniors (four girls, three boys) and their single mothers were selected using purposeful sampling methods.  Four research questions guided this study: (1) How do African American students and their single mothers understand and explain the protective factors and underlying processes contributing to academic success?  (2) What do African American students and their single mothers report as potential barriers (risk factors) to academic success?  (3) How has family structure influenced the academic success of African American high school students from single-mother homes?  and (4) In what ways can existing and/or future social structures help support and facilitate academic success for African American students from single-mother households? 
Data analysis occurred in two stages.  The first stage, narrative analysis, used poetic transcription techniques to create found poems for each of the individual participants.  The second stage, analysis of narratives, identified themes across participants’ narratives.  Data analysis revealed protective factors contributing to success included students’ inherent drive toward success, a deeply invested mother, and assistance from social-relational supports.  The potential barriers to academic success were described as “challenges of the streets,” and the responsibilities associated with single parenting.  The influence of family structure on academic success involved students being motivated to “go harder” and mothers acting strategically.  Lastly, findings related to how social structures can support the academic success of Black students from single mother homes included participants’ expressing the need for “a community that has our back” and a recognition of their success.  Recommendations for practice and future research are included.
Committee members: Patricia Reeves (Chair), Jennifer Elkins, Kathleen deMarrais, Deryl Bailey.

Irang Kim (Ph.D. '17)

Parental experiences of Korean-American immigrant parents of sons or daughters having developmental disabilities: Stress and coping

Caring for children with developmental disabilities (DDs) poses unique stress and demands on parents. The parents of children with DDs reported higher physical and mental problems compared to other parents of children without DDs. Over the past decades, the number of immigrant families from diverse cultures has shown rapid growth. In particular, Korean-Americans (KA) are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States. Immigrant parents of children with DDs may have unique experiences in caring for their child with DDs, but no study to date has examined KA immigrant parents’ experiences in terms of dealing with parental challenges.  The purpose of this study is to understand the process of how KA immigrant parents manage parental challenges in raising their children with DDs. In this study, a grounded theory was employed. Snowball and theoretical sampling were utilized to select participants; 20 KA parents participated in the study. In-depth interviews (either face-to-face or on the phone) were conducted in the parents’ native language, Korean. This study utilized qualitative software, Nvivo 10, for analyzing data, and it applied the grounded theory analysis methods (i.e. open and axial coding). From rich and illustrative descriptions provided by KA immigrant parents who raise children with DDs, the Hope for Development theory was developed in relation to experiences in caring for children with DDs. In everyday life, parents encountered challenges due to a wide variety of reasons, making them feel overwhelmed. Nevertheless, they have continued caring for their child. Parents’ hope for their child’s development in terms of any aspect can be their fuel in their long journey. Once parents had hope for their child’s development, parents invested their time and finances and tried whatever they could do to fulfill their hope. Depending on the degree to which they obtained their desired outcomes, parents experienced different emotions ranging from positive to negative. Social support can affect investments, outcomes, and emotional reactions. Then, parents adjusted their hope for their child based on achieved outcomes. This caring management process seems to be repeated across their life course. Implications for social work practices are also discussed.
Committee members: Betsy Vonk (Chair), Shari Miller, Y. Joon Choi