Low self-esteem has often been a term synonymous with powerlessness, and powerlessness has been identified as a health risk. Many homeless girls have experienced a high incidence of physical and emotional health problems. This quasi-experimental study examined the interventions intended to improve self-esteem in homeless adolescent girls. The interventions were designed to improve knowledge, skills and self-awareness in order to better equip them for self-care. The nursing theory upon which these interventions were founded was Orem's Self-Care Deficit Theory. The interdisciplinary approach to the problem was determined by an assessment of self-care deficits. Interventions were categorized by Orem's (1991) "methods of assisting: acting or doing for; guiding; teaching; supporting; and providing a developmental environment"(p.6). The researcher hypothesized that after a four week stay at Covenant House New Orleans, and participation in empowerment interventions, adolescent girls would have higher self-esteem scores than at the time of intake. Participants were given a pre-test consisting of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) and a researcher-designed questionnaire about their self concepts. The post-test was the same test with the addition of a listing of programs offered at the shelter for them to rate in terms of helpfulness. RSES scores were analyzed using the dependent t-test statistic while additional information was analyzed descriptively. Since ;t(18)=-1.2, p=.12, the researcher failed to reject the null-hypothesis. However, descriptive analysis of open-ended questions did suggest improvements in subjects' self-concept after the interventions. Additional findings were perhaps more helpful in terms of understanding self-esteem in homeless adolescent females. Because many subjects scored high on the initial pre-test RSES, and because most of them were parenting, the researcher suggests that parenting teens gain self-esteem from taking care of their children. Other findings comparing the group who dropped out of the study with the study group who stayed for the interventions supported the concept that the youth who leave may be the most at-risk group. The implication for nursing is to establish an outreach effort to follow the youth after they leave the shelter. Recommendations for future research using a larger sample, and a longer time for interventions are suggested.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Dr. Mary Patricia Curtis

Second Advisor

Dr. Lynn Chilton

Third Advisor

Carol Thompson

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons