Social Support as Road Map and Vehicle

An Analysis of Data from Focus Group Interviews with a Group of African American Women


Address correspondence to Christine Di Martile Bolla, D.N.Sc., R.N., Department of Nursing, Samuel Merritt College, 12500 Campus Dr., Oakland, CA 94619.


Abstract As part of a larger study of the impact of a social support intervention on pregnancy outcome for lower-income African American women, 6 African American women (a medical social worker, a physician's assistant, 2 community outreach workers, a lactation consultant, and a health project representative) participated in focus group discussions concerning the unique social support needs of lower-income African American women during pregnancy. Transcripts of focus group interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Emergent themes included strengths of African American communities, deficiencies in social support for many lower-income African American women, the meaning of pregnancy for African American women, the ability of many pregnant women to “make it” without visible means of support, young women's locations “inside” and “outside” of “mainstream” life, and the importance of social support as a mechanism for guiding and transporting “lost souls” back into the mainstream.