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Visual methods in health dialogues: a qualitative study of public health nurse practice in schools

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 15:13 authored by Laholt, H, Guillemin, M, Kim McLeodKim McLeod, Olsen, RE, Lorem, GF

Aims: We aimed to explore how using visual methods might improve or complicate the dynamics of the health dialogue between public health nurses (PHNs) and school pupils. This was done from the perspective of PHNs, specifically examining how they understood their role and practice as a PHN and the application of visual methods in this practice.

Background: The health dialogue is a method used by PHNs in school nursing in Norway. In this practice, there can be communicative barriers between pupils and PHNs. Investigating how PHNs understand their professional practice can lead to ways of addressing these communicative barriers, which can affect pupil satisfaction and achievement of health-related behaviours in the school context. Specifically, the use of visual methods by PHNs may address these communicative barriers.

Design: The research design was qualitative, using focus groups combined with visual methods.

Methods: We conducted focus group interviews using a semi-structured discussion guide and visual methods with five groups of PHNs (n = 31) working in northern Norwegian school health services. The data were collected during January and February 2016. Discussions were audio recorded, transcribed and coded into themes and sub-themes using systematic text condensation and drawings were analysed using interpretive engagement, a method of visual analysis.

Findings: Drawings and focus group discussions showed that PHNs perceived their professional practice as primarily a relational praxis. The PHNs used a variety of visual methods as part of the health dialogue with school pupils. This active use of visualization worked to build and strengthen relations when words were inadequate and served to enhance the flexible and relational practice employed by the PHNs.

Conclusions: PHNs used different kinds of visualization methods to establish relations with school pupils, especially when verbalization by the pupils was difficult. PHNs were aware of both the benefits and challenges of using visualization with school pupils in health education. We recommend the use of visual methods in schools because they are useful for PHNs, other health professionals and teachers working with children and young people in developing relations, particularly where verbal communication may be a challenge.


Publication title

Journal of Advanced Nursing










School of Social Sciences


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in human society