Ethnonursing and the ethnographic approach in nursing
Intended for healthcare professionals
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Ethnonursing and the ethnographic approach in nursing

Luke Molloy Programme co-ordinator, School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania, NSW, Australia
Kim Walker Professor of healthcare improvement, University of Tasmania, NSW, Australia
Richard Lakeman Clinical nurse consultant, Queensland Heath QLD, Australia
Isabelle Skinner Professor of nursing, University of Tasmania, NSW, Australia

Aim To present a critical methodological review of the ethnonursing research method.

Background Ethnonursing was developed to underpin the study and practice of transcultural nursing and to promote ‘culturally congruent’ care. Ethnonursing claims to produce accurate knowledge about cultural groups to guide nursing care. The idea that the nurse researcher can objectively and transparently represent culture still permeates the ethnonursing method and shapes attempts to advance nursing knowledge and improve patient care through transcultural nursing.

Data sources Relevant literature published between the 19th and 21st centuries.

Review methods Literature review.

Discussion Ethnography saw a ‘golden age’ in the first half of the 20th century, but the foundations of traditional ethnographic knowledge are being increasingly questioned today.

Conclusion The authors argue that ethnonursing has failed to respond to contemporary issues relevant to ethnographic knowledge and that there is a need to refresh the method. This will allow nurse researchers to move beyond hitherto unproblematic notions of objectivity to recognise the intrinsic relationship between the nurse researcher and the researched.

Implications for research/practice A revised ethnonursing research method would enable nurse researchers to create reflexive interpretations of culture that identify and embody their cultural assumptions and prejudices.

Nurse Researcher. 23, 2, 17-21. doi: 10.7748/nr.23.2.17.s5

Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 07 July 2014

Accepted: 07 January 2015

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