Effects of spirituality on African American women recovering from substance abuse

In the article by Violet L. Wright on the study of the effects of spirituality on African American women recovering from substance abuse, the theoretical framework derives from the principle of holistic care in the nursing profession, including spirituality. Citing various sources in this area that seek to establish the healing effects of spirituality, the author considers spirituality, as diverse from religion, to be specially relevant in the case of African American women prone to substance abuse. It is posed to be particularly significant for the nursing staff to provide these women customized support during the healing process from substance abuse. This emphasis is on the basis of the philosophical orientation provided by the work of Frankl, who claims that addiction arises to fill in the perceived void of meaning in personal existence. According to Wright, spirituality can serve to fill up this gap instead of substance abuse and thus eliminate the cause itself that leads to dependence on a particular substance.With the aim of proving beyond doubt the soundness of this theoretical framework, Wright chooses the research design and method according to the needs of nursing research and the subject presently under consideration. The method employed in this study is phenomenology, a process where a given experience is described without reference to any previous extant theories. This method is particularly valid in this case, as such descriptions would help nursing staff to understand and better empathize with the personal and spiritual dilemmas of the patients of substance abuse.Of the varied types of phenomenology, the author chose the Gorgi’s method, involving a well-evolved study of phenomena in psychiatry, as it was found particularly suited to substance abuse and recovery nursing. It consists of the assimilation of the entire participator statements by the researcher, determination of meaning units, as described in the article, derivation of psychological insights and their synthesis into a conclusion.The instrument used was a series of prolonged interviews with the participants who were informed of the purpose of the research, but no formal questionnaire or data survey was used. There was a standard general request for descriptions to each participant, followed by neutral probes into the topic. The reliability quotient was not very high considering that peer debriefings, inter-subjective agreement by expert judges, or returning to participants to validate findings were not carried out, as these are not part of Gorgi’s analysis. An effort was made however, to maintain qualitative rigor, by drawing on some aspects from Lincoln amp.Guba ’s (1985) work to increase reliability of the interpretation, by accurately representing the experiences of the participants and through prolonged engagement with the subject matter. An ongoing journal of the activities was also maintained to enhance confirmability and to leave an audit trail tracing a clear path from the evidence examined to the conclusions drawn at the end.The procedure undertaken involved contacting participants who were willing, identified themselves as African American, and were victims of substance abuse. They were found through networking, contacting women’s shelters and community church support group members. The data was collected by interviewing the participants, while making notes at the same time about the feeling and experiences of the researcher herself, which helped bracket or segregate any known presumptions on the part of the researcher.The author analyzed the data from the transcriptions after careful study as to their veracity from the audio tape, and viewing each interview as a whole in order to derive naïve meaning units. The researcher detected these through a psychological approach towards concrete examples, and then through reflection and intuitive variation as suggested in the phenomenological method, arrived at formulated meaning units or the essence of spirituality for these participants. This is not a concrete process and no specific statistical tools were used, in keeping with the fluidity of the subject under consideration.The article draws several broad conclusions about the attitude of African American women recovering from substance abuse, like spiritual transformation, the importance of community and progressive effects of spirituality. Based on reflection and intuitive variation, not on statistical analyses, it emphasizes the possibly healing effects of helpful interventions by nurses on the spiritual journeys of these women. The stated limitation is the previous experience of the researcher in the field of substance abuse and African American women, and may have previously formed opinions on the topic. This limitation can be very detrimental to the research, as the phenomenological method relies heavily on the personal efficacy of the researcher in sifting through collected information to draw conclusions uncolored by any presuppositions. Another noted limitation is the choice of participants from church-supported communities or shelters, where the bias towards spirituality and God were already known.The article opens with a strong theoretical framework and aims at a suitable method to prove the claims of the theory about females of a particular community recovering from substance abuse. The procedure and the instruments however do not have great measures of reliability. The data analysis is reflective and intuitive, which might make the research prey to subjectivity, especially when one considers the two accepted limitations. Though detailed and sincere in the description of the research starting from the theoretical framework, the research design and method, followed by analysis, findings and the summary, the article still falls short of the analytical ideal. The conclusions drawn, and the instruments, methods, procedures and analysis used to arrive at them in this article are not analytically and reliably proven to be irrefutable.

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