A significant gap in current network research relates to understanding the factors that shape the health matters (HM) networks of marginalized, socially disadvantaged populations. This is noteworthy, given that these networks represent a critical resource for mitigating the adverse health effects of both acute and chronic strains associated with marginalized status. Further, research has suggested that the networks of such populations—especially low-income African American women—are unique, and may operate in substantively different ways than those of other groups. Using two waves of data from a sample of low-income African American women, this research identifies the demographic, health status, and health behavior measures at time one that correspond to HM network characteristics at time two, six months later. This study offers preliminary insights on the relationship between key sociodemographic and health status characteristics of low-income African American women and their HM networks, including criminal justice involvement. Findings reveal that though poorer health status and criminal justice involvement correspond to smaller health matters networks, they also correspond to more active and supportive networks.

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Published in Social Sciences, v. 6, issue 3, 108, p. 1-19.

© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01-DA22967; PI: C. Oser).