Research Evidence about What Works in Family Nursing Practice: Unpacking and Going inside Interventions


  • Lorraine M. Wright
  • Janice M. Bell


Family nursing, Family intervention research, Interventions


The future of family nursing research needs to reflect the essence of family nursing practice, i.e., to heal emotional, physical, and/or spiritual suffering within families. The authors challenge the predominant belief within "good science” that before intervention research can be designed and conducted, there first must be a thorough understanding of the phenomenon, (i.e., an in-depth knowledge of the variables that mediate families' response to health and illness). In this model, only after the variables are understood and the relationships between the variables are known, can interventions be designed to alter these variables in an effective manner. This may be a useful model for theory building that hopefully, after many years of systematic study, improves nursing practice. But in daily nursing practice, nurses encounter family suffering in a variety of practice settings that require immediate care and intervention.  Therefore, family nursing practice as it occurs in the daily life of nurses needs to be described, explored, and evaluated to gain an understanding of what is working in the moment. What are nurses actually doing and saying that is helpful to families in their experience of illness? This chapter offers ideas for conducting research about nursing practice with families that goes “inside the intervention" to find answers to the question, "How do we make sense of what nursing actions helped the family to diminish or alleviate suffering ?” This kind of research enables immediate reflections, changes and makes improvements to practice, and thereby increases possibilities for diminishing suffering.


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