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Reducing My Risk of Intrusion: An Intention of Old Homebound Women Who Live Alone

Porter, Eileen J.; Lasiter, Sue

doi: 10.1097/01.NNR.0000313503.30346.e7

Background: In assessing home safety for older persons, nurses have checked home security or assessed fear of crime but neglected to explore intentions to reduce the risk of intrusion.

Objectives: To describe the intentions of old homebound women relative to reducing the risk of intrusion.

Methods: A descriptive phenomenological method was used. The 40 participants (aged 85-98 years, M = 89.6) met criteria for age, living alone, and homebound status. Over 18 months, a series of tape-recorded interviews was completed, focusing on perceptions about changes in feeling safe at home and precautions to prevent the need to reaching help quickly. Data analyzed were drawn from interviews with the 32 women who reported intentions to reduce intrusion risk.

Findings: Feeling safe in-place was contextual to recognizing intrusion risk and intentions to reduce the risk. Most women denied a recent change in feeling safe but reported intentions to reduce intrusion risk. The nine women who reported feeling less safe referred to various personal-social situations as explanatory. The five components of the phenomenon were keeping watch here, keeping out of harm's way here, preventing theft and vandalism here, discouraging people who might want to get in here, and keeping intruders out of here. Each component phenomenon was the umbrella for a variety of specific intentions to reduce intrusion risk.

Conclusions: Each woman was intending to reduce intrusion risk in unique ways. When conducting home safety assessments, nurses should explore intentions to reduce intrusion risk and use that information as a basis for individualized interventions to promote safety, rather than relying on generic suggestions such as locking the door.

Eileen J. Porter, PhD, RN, FGSA, is Professor; and Sue Lasiter, MSN, RN, PhD Candidate, was a Graduate Research Assistant, Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri, Columbia.

Editor's Note: Additional information provided by the authors expanding this article is on the Editor's Web site at

Accepted for publication May 29, 2008.

The project described was supported by Grant 1 R01 AG021971 from the National Institute on Aging.

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Aging or the National Institutes of Health.

Corresponding author: Eileen J. Porter, PhD, RN, FGSA, S424 Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211 (e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.