Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dawn Michelle Baunach

Second Advisor

Erin Ruel

Third Advisor

Diedre Oakley


Studies have shown that health outcomes are disproportionately worse for homeless individuals as compared with individuals with stable housing (Brickner, Scanlan, and Conanan 1986); however, the unique coping mechanisms that they employ to protect their health have been largely understudied. Better understanding of attitudes and behaviors that individuals adopt to maintain their health, collectively termed “self-care” is imperative to the design and implementation of effective public health interventions for this population. The purpose of this thesis is to better understand both the barriers and coping strategies of transient populations. The two research questions guiding this thesis are: What barriers to health do transient residents in high-risk neighborhoods experience, and how do they mitigate the perceived or existing barriers? Findings from this analysis indicate that the most salient barriers for transient populations are lack of transportation, lack of health insurance, beliefs about health, and mental illness. The agency exercised by participants to improve their own health outcomes has important implications for the efficacy of health promotion campaigns and health policy aimed at high-risk populations.