Stress and Health; Dana Rose Garfin, Alexandra Amador, Jessica Osorio, Krista Sadiwa Ruivivar, April Torres, Adeline M. Nyamathi; published August 6, 2022; DOI: 10.1002/smi.3188


This multi-method study examined perspectives on mindfulness and coping strategies used by trauma-exposed women experiencing homelessness (WEH), residing in a state-funded residential drug treatment site in Southern California (United States). Questionnaires and in-depth focus group interviews were utilized to examine traumatic experiences over the lifespan, probable-posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and coping strategies. Mindfulness was explored as a potential way to improve coping; potential benefits and challenges associated with implementing a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) with trauma-exposed WEH were also investigated. A Community Advisory Board (CAB) was formed to identify key issues experienced by WEH and to develop a semi structured interview guide (SSIG). Using the SSIG, women participated in one of four focus groups (total N=28; n=7 per group). Quantitative data on demographic indicators, probable-PTSD, and trauma exposure were collected. Over 90% of women met criteria for probable-PTSD; trauma exposure was exceedingly high; most women had experienced multiple traumas throughout their lives. Four main themes emerged from qualitative analyses, which drew from Grounded Theory and used open, selective, and axial coding: 1) ways of coping with trauma; 2) perspectives on mindfulness; 3) prior experiences with mindfulness; and 4) challenges for conducting a mindfulness program. Overall, WEH used a variety of coping techniques to deal with their trauma, had some familiarity with mindfulness, and were optimistic an MBI would be helpful, despite identifying several challenges to implementation. MBIs may be helpful adjuncts to traditional care for trauma-exposed, WEH, recovering from substance use disorder. Population-specific considerations may improve implementation and participation.