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Rose, J 2008, 'Emotional work, emotional wellbeing and professional practice: the lived experiences of women community health nurses providing palliative care in the home environment in Australia', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright J Rose 2008


This research set out to explore the relationship between emotional work, emotional wellbeing and professional practice of community nurses who provided palliative care to clients living at home. Three specific aims were investigated; the concept of emotional wellbeing; the relationship between emotional work, emotional wellbeing and professional practice; and the strategies utilised by the nurses that promote their emotional wellbeing.

An emancipatory framework was applied to this study. The research was epistemologically and ontologically located within a critical and feminist framework. It was believed that the chosen methodological approach was well situated to address the subjective experiences of the sixteen women community nurses who participated in this study. The participants were all registered nurses employed by New South Wales Health and were geographically located across rural and urban New South Wales, Australia. Data collection was undertaken over a fifteen-month period. The chosen methods were semi-structured interviews and reflective journaling.

The findings revealed that the concept of emotional wellbeing was complex and multifaceted. The participants associated emotional wellbeing with feeling energetically balanced or out of balance. There was a pervasive interconnectedness between emotional work, emotional wellbeing and professional practice that was influenced by multiple factors including the emotional impact of emotional work and various workplace challenges. Three main themes emerged, those being: Demanding; Rewarding; and Comfortability. Self-care was recognised as being important to the nurses and strategies to enhance their wellbeing were identified. These included healthy lifestyle choices, debriefing, self-validation, assertiveness and the need for emotional support.

It is argued that community health nurses are well positioned to critically examine their work environments and explore the issues that hinder or enhance their professional satisfaction and emotional wellbeing. The profession of nursing has traditionally promoted holistic healthcare practice in client care. Yet the holistic and humanistic care of nurses has been relegated to the margins, particularly when exploring emotional issues. Emancipatory inquiries provide valuable opportunities for researchers to address the complex issues faced by nurses as it enables nurses to speak from their hearts, thus creating transformative opportunities that have benefits for educators, nurses, the nursing profession and recipients of nursing care.

Background for incorporating publications into doctoral thesis Southern Cross University supports postgraduate research students publishing their work during candidature. It demonstrates to examiners that the student’s work has been peer reviewed and that the research is deemed worthy of publication. It also maintains currency of the candidate’s work as it is completed and for students wishing to do postdoctoral work, having a publication record is essential.

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