Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

The Importance of Emancipatory Research to Contemporary Nursing Practice

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

The Importance of Emancipatory Research to Contemporary Nursing Practice

Article excerpt


Emancipatory frameworks provide a broad lens through which nursing knowledge can be explored and developed.The authors discuss the significance of emancipatory research to current nursing practice arguing its place in creating opportunities for transformation and change. This paper will begin by raising attention to current issues in contemporary nursing practice before exploring contemporary research. Methodological issues associated with qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods will be briefly outlined followed by a discussion of research paradigms. Emancipatory research will be introduced and its contribution to contemporary nursing research addressed. Finally a research example will be provided to demonstrate the application of the emancipatory process and its importance to the development of nursing knowledge.The research example illustrated has been taken from a current PhD study undertaken with community nurses who provide palliative care within New South Wales, Australia.


It has been recognised across nursing internationally that evidenced-based practice (EBP) remains central to the production of professional nursing knowledge (Flemming 2007; Reimer Kirkham et al 2007).Whilst EBP was reported in the discourse as being contested by many critics, its contribution to advancing nursing practice undisputedly locates nursing research at the forefront of profession development; however, the move to develop the research/ practice nexus in the workplace can be fraught with compounding pressures for nurses and researchers.

Workplace environments remain challenged as health care organisations experience significant change (O'Connor 2002) compounded by economic restraints (Reimer Kirkham et al 2007). Nurses must face up to workplace violence and oppressive structures that have the potential to hinder effective nursing practice and decrease the motivation to undertake any additional responsibilities such as conducting research (Glass 2007; Giddings 2005). The complex issues (Chinn 2007) and increasing demands placed upon contemporary nurses result in additional stress, susceptibility to impaired well-being and emotional, physical and psychological distress (Preston 2002;Taylor & Barling 2002).

Whilst nursing research must engage in 'approaches that progress beyond that of traditional science' (Chinn 2007: 1) and arguably encompass epistemologies that are transformative (Reimer Kirkham et al 2007), conducting research and ensuring EBP can be problematic as the current nursing landscape creates difficulties for nurse clinicians to have the time to undertake research. Such concerns can be aligned with increasing competing responsibilities in the workplace, however added pressures and the problem of retention/recruitment heightens further the pressing need for research.

Raising awareness of culturally inherent issues and organisational structures that impede the growth and professional development of nurses is critically important to nursing. The nature of nursing is philosophically aligned with caring and healing and is 'grounded almost entirely on human relations' (Kuokkanen & Leino-Kilpi 2000: 240) yet nursing research that seeks to explore and examine emotions is rarely undertaken (Herdman 2004).Therefore, the implementation of contemporary research centred on human experience and aimed at examining and critiquing the complex realities faced by nurses, is strongly argued as critical to current nursing practice.


It is important to acknowledge there exists a vast degree of theoretical and methodological diversity within contemporary nursing literature. National and international research contributions continue to enhance the scholarship. Whilst acknowledging diversity in contributions, it remains essential to consider theoretical frameworks underpinning research studies and their subsequent contribution to the nursing profession. …

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