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Title: A qualitative study of nurse's health beliefs and how these impact on their health education practices.
Author: Chambers, Derek W.
Awarding Body: University of Huddersfield
Current Institution: University of Huddersfield
Date of Award: 2000
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This study investigates the ways in which nurses socially construct their health value systems and the ways in which they interpret their nursing practices. On the basis of the contradictions uncovered by the research, a new approach to health education is suggested, structured around a Lived Experience Model of Health Education the core of which is an intensified reflective practice. The model seeks to build the capacity for critical practice, closely integrating theory and practice, into nurses' modes of constructing a lay ideology based on their clinical and personal experience. Herein lies a fundamental difference between this model and other health education models, which have tended to be too narrowly focused on the individual and as a result have perpetuated a victim blaming ideology. The thesis begins with a desk study of the British dimension of a coming international crisis in the funding of public health, to which the general response has been a shift away from state support for bio-medically dominated health systems to systems based on the central concepts of health promotion and health education. The desk study argues that in Britain this has become as much an ideological issue as a practical one, with liberal notions of free market individualism prominent in public policy, and relevant sociological findings played down. Before embarking on the field study, the thesis considers whether or not a Health Locus of Control study might give enough insight into the basis for nurses' health education practices to explain why many nurses seem resistant to change, and therefore why perhaps they have had so little effect on patterns of social morbidity. This was rejected partly because of the methodological problems uncovered in a range of prior Locus of Control studies, but mainly because the method offers no way of engaging with sociologically identified inequities in morbidity and mortality rates. Nor was it felt that standard quantitative methods of research would enable the study to explore the complex ideological issues involved in nurses' social constructions of health. The decision was taken to employ a methodology based around qualitative interviews using the method of hierarchical focusing, which allows the interviewer to probe seamlessly matters at different levels of generality and specificity. In the field work study the general ideological tendency revealed in the desk study is shown to have a marked effect on nurses' constructions of their roles as health practitioners. The subjects, a group of experienced nurses, were asked a number of questions concerning their views of what constituted good and poor health and the causes for this. When the transcripts of the interview recordings were analysed using content analysis, it was clear that much of what was said was logocentric and heavily influenced by bio-medical discourse in spite of the subjects talking freely about holistic nursing. In fact there were contradictory and anomalous messages throughout the transcripts, so it was decided to subject these to a form of discourse analysis which revealed the existence of two opposing value positions held without any feeling of contradiction by a number of respondents: a holistic view - the public account, and a victim-blaming view - the private account. In order to gauge the effect of such views on nursing practice a further group of experienced nurses was given a series of nursing vignettes to analyse. The results showed that there appear to be two types of nurses: a reflexive group that is able to take on the complex issues involved in caring in the postmodern context and one, much the larger group, whose members have failed to resolve the contradictions in the prevailing ideology, who tend to fall back on victim-blaming and on bio-medical perspectives. Of course, this needs much more research to establish as a general pattern. However, there was enough clear evidence of ideological influences blocking the development of nurses' understanding and health practices to suggest the need for a new way of working with trainee nurses, much more sharply aimed at the development of critical consciousness in the practice situation. All the lessons of the research have been incorporated in the design of the new model.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Health services & community care services Medical care