Researching the Perceived Health Concerns of African American and Sierra Leonean Women: Using Hair Salons as a Focused Ethnography Research Site


In 2007, I enrolled at The Catholic University of America’s doctoral program. As a public/community health nurse, I was very interested in conducting a research project in a community setting among groups disproportionately affected by various health conditions. Additionally, I wanted to understand their perspectives on health. In reviewing the literature, there was a lack of information related to self-reported health concerns of Black women with varied ethnicities, which led to my dissertation topic, "What are the perceived health concerns of African American and Sierra Leonean women?" This case study concentrates on the focused ethnographic research experiences related to participating in the research setting, interviewing, and the participant observation data collection technique. Moreover, the reader will learn about the challenging but interesting aspects of fieldwork in ethnographies. The case study will also highlight the use of the researcher as the "tool" for collecting data.

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