A qualitative study of mental health nurse identities: many roles, one profession

Document Type


Publication details

Hurley, J 2009, 'A qualitative study of mental health nurse identities: many roles, one profession', International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 383-390.

The definitive version is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0349.2009.00625.x

Peer Reviewed



The aim of the study was to clarify and build upon current understandings of mental health nurse (MHN) identity. The study adopted a framework of social constructionism and qualitative methodology. Semistructured interviews were conducted, which were thematically analyzed using Nvivo software. Twenty-five MHN were recruited across three geographical sites in the UK. Participants constructed a cluster of seven MHN identity characteristics that constituted a unique contribution to talk-based therapies. These themes of characteristics are: (i) the MHN as generic specialist; (ii) the MHN as adopting a service-user focus; (iii) the MHN as positioning and utilizing the personal self; (iv) the MHN as spending time with the service user; (v) the MHN as delivering talk-based therapies in versatile ways; (vi) the MHN as having an everyday attitude; and (vii) the MHN as having transferable skills. The distinctiveness, and thus, professional identity of mental health nursing, must be understood as a cluster of capabilities rather than a search for a singular point of difference. The breadth of capabilities employed by MHN highlights the value and worth of their contribution to service-user care.

Find in your library