University of Tasmania
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What's special about mental health nursing? : Being in the here and now, side by side, co-constructing care : a substantive grounded theory of recovery-focused mental health nursing

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posted on 2023-05-27, 12:37 authored by Santangelo, P
Mental health nursing is practiced worldwide; however, there is an enduring inquiry, within the discipline that seeks to articulate clearly what a mental health nurse is and does. This thesis explores how mental health nurses describe the nature, scope and consequences of their practice and the meaning they give to what they say and do when asked the question; what's special about mental health nursing? Constructivist grounded theory was used to develop a theoretical model of mental health nursing practice, with its focus to conceptualise the lived experience of mental health nursing in terms of its distinctive attributes and positive outcomes for the clients it serves. Data for interpretation were generated through interviews with 36 mental health nurses, five of their clients and one health care colleague. Participants were asked to speak in as much detail as possible about what they believe is special about mental health nursing and what had influenced them to arrive at this understanding. The study revealed that the distinct nature and identity of mental health nursing provides the foundation that primes and drives practice scope and consequences. The mental health nursing perspective of care is an acquired lens, facilitated by the nexus between the nature of mental health nursing and how it is experienced in practice by those it serves. The participants described a relational interplay between the nurse and the client that facilitates the nurse to adopt recovery-focused practices. Mental health nurses make care available to clients, particularly those with complex needs, that goes beyond what is professionally prescribed for mental health nurses. The result is a client-focused, therapeutic and beneficial coupling that is, concurrently, humanistic and professional, co-constructed and contractual, collaborative and purposeful, and empowering and power sharing that yields positive outcomes. This brought the study to generate a substantive theory titled 'Being in the here and now, side by side, co-constructing care: A substantive grounded theory of recovery-focused mental health nursing'. This theoretical construct holds the potential to be the mediating connection between client and mental health nurse. By situating mental health nursing and its central role in practice as something co-constructed, findings from this study can be expanded beyond the Australian context ‚Äö- specifically in terms of professional identity, practice, education, leadership and research.


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