Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Education

First Advisor

Fetro, Joyce


i ABSTRACT Sense of purpose is strongly associated with positive health behaviors and academic achievement (Turner-Musa & Lipscomb, 2007, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics FIFCFS, 2010). The purpose of this qualitative research study was to develop grounded theory by the exploration of sense of purpose by describing and interpreting attitudes, beliefs, and practices among Black American families participating in an outreach program in Southern, IL. Grounded theory was used to explain the phenomenon of sense of purpose, and the relationship among optimism, faith, hope, spirituality and sense of meaning. A non probability purposive sample was used for the study. The sample consisted of 10 families, which were comprised of 26 individual, seven Black American mothers, one Black American father, one Black American grandmother, one Caucasian guardian and 16 children. Data collection included audio-taping first order narratives derived through individual interviews, field notes and observations in the homes of the participating families. Findings included identifying common and less common categories. The common categories were God, relationships, education, communication, financial security, autonomy and independence, leadership qualities, perseverance, self efficacy, life lessons, cooperation and opportunities. Less common categories, appearing in at least one family, were discipline and structure, and celebration of life. The central category linking all the categories and constructs together was identified as communication. Some causal affects influenced the prevalence of certain categories and how they were connected to the five constructs. These causal affects were poverty, parental education levels, and illness.




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