Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences

Degree Program

Public Health Sciences with a specialization in Health Promotion, PhD

Committee Chair

Buchino, Susan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Harris, Muriel

Committee Member

Harris, Muriel

Committee Member

Story, Kaila

Committee Member

Erves, Jennifer

Author's Keywords

Black women; health disparities; music; healthcare; Sister Circle


Despite advancements in medicine and health sciences, health disparities and declining life expectancy persists among Black women in the United States. Researchers and non-traditional healthcare providers suggest alternative healing (e.g., music and Sister Circles) and research methodologies to achieve a culturally conscious, traumainformed, quality, and holistic care and practice. The intersecting identities and cultural responsibility of Black women highly influences the barriers and facilitators on the uptake of healthcare services. Utilizing a community engaged research approach, this qualitative study assessed the healthcare experiences, as well as the role of music in the lived and retold experiences of Black women navigating the healthcare system in Louisville, KY. A purposive sample of 25 women living in Louisville was recruited to participate in a oneon- one interview, or a Sister Circle session. Participants (n = 15) were interviewed regarding their experiences with healthcare services, perceptions of healthcare, selfhelp/ healing methods, and the role of music in their lives. Sister Circle participants joined a group session (n = 10) where music therapy centered healing interventions and research procedures (e.g., drum circle and song share). These non-traditional methods were also used to capture perceptions of healthcare and the power of music in their lives. Results of this study prove that Black women are aware of their acquiescence of quality healthcare while attempting to care for their families, while also, self-advocating for their health and wellbeing besides a perception of judgement, discrimination, and differential treatment. Six themes were developed from the data by the researcher, participants, and community partners. Participants described a perception of feeling invisible in provider’s offices, barriers to healthcare utilization, expectations of quality healthcare, a communalism for themselves and the larger Black community, the need for alternative healing and therapy methods, and the influence of music within their lives in and outside of the healthcare system. Concluding, this study provides evidence supporting the need for alternative data collection, healing, and therapy methodologies when serving marginalized populations. It also gives insight into the perceptions and lived experiences of Black women navigating the healthcare system. Thus, it postulates implications for future research and healthcare policy and practices that seek to provide a quality and holistic care experience for Black women.