The Value of Qualitative Research – Understanding and Expression

by Jennifer Smith RN Australia.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a research study. I had completed a survey and was then asked if I would like to participate in an interview as part of a qualitative study on self-care. The research was about exploring the topic of self-care in nurses who work in palliative care and whether this may relate to compassion for self and compassion for others.

I love participating and supporting other nurses, especially when it comes to research, so I jumped at the chance.

The qualitative approach to research, is less about figures and results and more about the experiences and themes of the participants, with a view to establishing a broader understanding of what a group of people’s experiences are on a particular subject. The numbers of participants in qualitative research are often much smaller than with quantitative research and whilst this allows for a richer, in-depth analysis to be performed, there are some factions in science that do not value this and who consider quantitative research superior. Both are valid ways of performing research and are suited to address different research questions and fields of study.

The questions asked were quite broad about how I self-care, how it affects how I am at work, the strategies I use, the things that get in the way of me self-caring and whether or not I had a ‘self-care plan’ and whether a plan is beneficial (this is something that is talked about a lot in palliative care circles). The questions were open so I could really discuss and explore how self-care supports me both personally and most definitely professionally.
Continue reading “The Value of Qualitative Research – Understanding and Expression”

Learning the meaning of osteoporosis

by Gill Randall, Physiotherapist Grad Dip Phys, Banbury, UK

A few years ago, the local gym I attended did a simple heel prick test and I was diagnosed with osteopenia, the precursor for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition that affects bone density and strength, so the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue. In osteopenia, the protein and mineral content of bone tissue is reduced, but less severely than in osteoporosis.

Bone is alive and constantly changing. A healthy diet and lifestyle from an early age help us to maximize bone strength by ‘banking’ bone when we are young. A poor diet as children, eating disorders, and erratic diets can all affect the laying down of healthy bone. And as we age, particularly after menopause in women, there is a tendency to bone loss. Osteoporosis can tend to run in families, but whether this is due to dietary and lifestyle factors or ‘genetic’ tendencies is open to question.

I was surprised at my diagnosis, as I had had a healthy diet as a child. I did a bit of yo-yo dieting through my teenage years, but I’ve had a tendency to be overweight, not underweight, and have always been relatively active. Upon diagnosis I was prescribed calcium tablets with Vitamin D and told to do more weight bearing exercise, so I did some line dancing and an exercise class in the gym. I do have a family connection, as my mother had severe osteoporosis and had a lot of pain from it in her later years. It’s not a life threatening condition, but it can be life changing. When she lost bone density and 5 inches in height, she had constant pain, easily broke bones when she fell, and postural changes caused digestive problems.

Having witnessed my mother go through these progressive changes, I do not want this for my future, and so I want to learn what I can do to support the health of my bones. Continue reading “Learning the meaning of osteoporosis”

Common Sense – True Medicine

by Anne Malatt and Paul Moses, Australia. 

Anne: I’ve always wondered about the term common sense.

We all use the words:

  • “It’s just common sense!”
  • “Use your common sense!”
  • “She has no common sense!”
  • “Common sense is not very common” as the saying goes – but is that true? I feel there is more to it than we commonly understand.

What does common sense mean to you?

Paul: I too have wondered about that and I looked it up in the dictionary, and the words are derived from the Latin sensus communis meaning ‘feeling in common’.

The word sensus means a sense, a feeling we have in our whole body, not just a thought we have in our minds.

The word communis means something that we all share and have access to, equally so, no matter who we are.

So common sense is a communal thing, the feeling we all share, that we all have in common.

Anne: So common does not mean low, stupid or less than in some way, but brings us to equality and shared values. It transcends all the barriers we have put between us – gender, age, colour, race, religion, nationality, culture – and brings us back to the truth, that we all share a knowing we have in common. Having common sense does not make us ‘common’, or a ‘commoner’, in the commonly used sense of the word, but makes us part of a community.

Paul: So in practical terms, what are we talking about?

Continue reading “Common Sense – True Medicine”

Having ideals and beliefs – at what expense to the body?

by Cherise Holt, Nurse, Australia

When I was 20 years old, I graduated as a nurse and began to work in a Rehabilitation unit, in a major city hospital. On any shift I would be allocated to approximately 7 patients, all of whom were recovering from surgical procedures, injuries and various illnesses & diseases. They all varied in the amount of support they (and their carers) needed from me, physically, mentally and emotionally.

I worked shift work, usually days, afternoons and weekends and it was not uncommon to work 7 days without a break or have very irregular shifts. I frequently worked until 11pm at night and would then start another shift beginning at 6.30am the next morning. I used to think I had barely enough time to drive home and sleep, let alone take time to wind down properly or bring true quality to my relationship with me (or anyone else!).

I worked hard and I would tell anyone that I thoroughly enjoyed my job. I loved talking to the patients, although found it difficult with those that wanted more of my attention or more solutions from me than I felt I could give. I liked providing care for them, however found that the physical tasks I was doing for them, even the basics of daily care, was becoming tiring on my body.

At age 20, I was already feeling drained by my career; how could this be? Continue reading “Having ideals and beliefs – at what expense to the body?”