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The need for psychiatric nursing: towards a multidimensional theory of caring

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Philip Barker, Susan Jackson, Dr Chris Stevenson


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Contemporary developments in health care have encouraged a review of the professional status of psychiatric nursing. Although research has documented psychiatric nursing activity, little study has been made of the 'need' for psychiatric nursing within a multidisciplinary service. Employing adapted grounded theory methodology, substantive theory was developed concerning the expressed need for psychiatric nursing, by patients, their carers and mental health professionals. The study was based on six sites from England, Eire and Northern Ireland. The study found some consensus across both recipients and providers of mental health care, that the essential feature of nursing (the core category) involved a complex of relationships: 'knowing you, knowing me'. Within that complex, nurses either elected, or were required, to move-or 'toggle' - between three discrete domains of relating: the Ordinary Me (OM); the Pseudo-ordinary or Engineered Me (POEM); and the Professional Me (PM). Four internal dimensions involving the nurses' depth of knowing, power, use of time and use of translation distinguished these domains. The emergent theory extends current awareness of the importance of interpersonal relations in nursing. To what extent current health care policy, which emphasizes the promotion of alternative roles for nurses, will challenge this essential focus remains unclear.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Barker P, Jackson S, Stevenson C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nursing Inquiry

Year: 1999

Volume: 6

Issue: 2

Pages: 103-111

Print publication date: 01/06/1999

ISSN (print): 1320-7881

ISSN (electronic): 1440-1800

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1046/j.1440-1800.1999.00018.x

PubMed id: 10696202


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