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An Exploratory Study of Perceptions of Eudemonic Well-being: A Study of African American Women in the Healthcare Administration Profession Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationAn Exploratory Study of Perceptions of Eudemonic Well-being:A Study of African American Women in the Healthcare Administration ProfessionWell-being has been greatly researched in the fields of psychology, health, and medicine. However, based on a review of more than 100 articles around this problem, research focused on the well-being of African American leaders in the healthcare administration context was not found. The study of African American women leaders in this context is relevant due to this professional field predominately led by White male executives, with resulting White norms and biases. Black women in leadership within the healthcare administration field are underrepresented and discriminated against based on double standards that exist due to the intersection of their race and gender. To this end, numerous studies have confirmed that perceived discrimination is a negative predictor of well-being (Jang, 2008; Jiloha, 2010; Ryff, Keyes, & Hughes, 2003). This is especially noteworthy as healthcare administrators are tasked with ensuring the health and well-being of both their staff and patients.Study findings suggest well-being is experienced through perceptions of growth, self-acceptance, transcendent summons, and transformation as resistance to oppression from the dominant culture in the healthcare field. The study findings also suggest that although Black women who serve as healthcare administrators face adversity in the form of oppression, racism, and discrimination, they are resilient and use their experiences of spirituality, autonomy, positive relations, and purpose in life to withstand the adversity. Additionally, study findings exposed isolation, double standards, and work place challenges as barriers to well-being.This study makes two contributions to the larger body of research through theory. The first contribution is that the well-being concept called ‘environmental mastery,’ as defined by Ryff and Singer (2008), was experienced differently in this study population. Ryff and Singer’s (2008) model suggests that a sense of control over context can contribute to well-being. However, this study found that environmental mastery is a double-edged sword; it can facilitate well-being and it can perpetuate the perception of needing to be a superwoman (Nelson, Cardemil, Adeoye, 2016). The second theoretical contribution was that Ryff’s (1989) model only partially reflected the experiences of the study participants. Although the study findings aligned with the majority of Ryff’s (1989) six dimensions, there are nuanced components that extend the theory to include how Black women experience eudemonic well-being. The revised conceptual framework includes spirituality’s influence on well-being; resilience in the face of adversity; transformation as resistance to oppression; and transcendent summons.The practical implications of the research study may assist organizations in reducing the costly turnover associated with high levels of stress and improve the well-being of their employees on a limited scope. On a larger scale, the findings may assist in reducing inequitable treatment, facilitating a culture less tolerant of gendered racism, and informing society of the experiences unique to a marginalized group. The onus of these recommendations, well-being of employees, career advancement, and equality for all, is those of HRD practitioners, the organization, and society.

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