Experiences of Homeless Families in Parenthood: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of Qualitative Evidence

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 15;17(8):2712. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17082712.


The objective of this systematic review was to identify the available qualitative data and to develop a framework to address the life experiences of homeless families in parenthood. The research was performed in the PubMed and CINAHL Complete databases, for works published in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. Studies that included qualitative data, or both qualitative and quantitative data, were considered for this research. A total of 358 articles were obtained, of which 37 were assessed for eligibility, and 26 were rejected. In the end, 11 studies were selected. The Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Checklist for Qualitative Research was used. These studies were conducted mostly in the United States, in temporary/transitional shelters for nuclear or single-parent families (led by women) in a homeless situation. In this context, the area which arose as the more relevant one was mental health, followed by the social studies. Two types of dimensions emerged from the results: mediating dimensions (which include the categories "Insecurity", "Lack of Privacy", "Isolation", "Stigma" and "Disempowerment") that are responsible for difficulties related to education, and behavioural changes in both the parents and the children; and supporting dimensions (which include the categories "Context as a Facilitator", "Relationship with Others" and "Parents' and children's Self") that lead to motivation, as well as the acquisition of strategies by the parents, to resolve parenting issues. This research helps expand nursing knowledge and presents a synthesis of the life experiences of homeless families in parenthood. Nursing can respond to the vulnerable population, due to its predominant role in promoting their health.

Keywords: family; homeless; nursing; parenting; parents; vulnerable population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Homeless Persons*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting*
  • Privacy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Stigma