Date of Conferral





Public Health


Jeanne Connors


The homeless population in Anchorage, Alaska faces many unique challenges. Over the past several winters, a number of homeless individuals have succumbed to the effects of exposure despite available cold weather services. This study investigated individual experiences within the homeless population of Anchorage, Alaska during times of inclement winter weather. Self-determination theory was used to explore motivations of behaviors of the population and to uncover the reasons why this population does not use cold weather services offered by the Municipality of Anchorage. The research questions addressed participant awareness of available cold weather services, survival strategies during inclement winter weather, and barriers to cold weather service use. This phenomenological study examined those lived experiences. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit eligible individuals (n = 14) at a local soup kitchen, and participants engaged in semistructured interviews. Data analysis procedures used McCormack's lenses and horizontalization to reveal emerging themes. Key findings included a lack of knowledge of emergency services, various survival strategies, and self-imposed barriers to services. The implications of these emerging revelations may positively influence public health providers to modify education delivery methods and interventions used to reach the homeless population in Anchorage, Alaska, with the ultimate goal of preventing wintertime mortalities.