Developing authentic mental health nursing research and practice
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Developing authentic mental health nursing research and practice

Karen Wright Principal lecturer, University of Central Lancashire

Taking on the role of researcher holds inherent challenges for a nurse. Karen Wright explains how writing a reflexive journal during one study helped her through the process

Throughout a project to research therapeutic relationships between women with anorexia and their care workers the author kept a reflexive account of the research, which included an exploration of her use of self and her own self-awareness. The therapeutic use of self, which is fundamental to nursing, is considered in the context of the simultaneous role of nurse researcher. The two roles can complement each other: sensitive researching is enhanced by nursing skills such as the therapeutic use of self, while research can heighten awareness, knowledge and compassion. Recognising and separating one’s own experiences, reactions and opinions is used together with continuing reflexive self-appraisal to ensure that collection and interpretation of qualitative data are not biased, and assumptions are not made. Authenticity is crucial to the process.

Mental Health Practice. 18, 4, 23-27. doi: 10.7748/mhp.18.4.23.e876


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 28 March 2013

Accepted: 16 May 2014