The borderlands
: community health nurses' perceptions of empowerment and their work with Aboriginal clients

  • Linda Ann Ritchie

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    Empowerment is a critical concept and philosophical foundation for the implementation of primary health care (PHC). The nursing profession with its allegiance to health promotion is an ideal vehicle for the implementation of empowering health partnerships with individuals, groups and communities. The appalling health status of Australian Aboriginal people and the disparity between the health of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians are well documented. Primary health care, as - opposed to improved medical care, is seen as an all-encompassing health strategy to bring about improvement in the health of Aboriginal people. This research contributes to an understanding of the links between empowerment and community health nurses' work with Aboriginal clients. My collaboration with registered nurses with community health expertise served to uncover both practice and professional issues as they relate to the themes of empowerment, power and culture. These issues emerged from the participants' discussions regarding the meaning of empowerment in their work with Aboriginal clients, and their articulation of strategies and challenges to working in empowering ways within the context of Aboriginal health.

    The research methodology has critical social theory and feminist philosophical underpinnings and the data was analysed using a form of grounded theory method. The participants' perceptions provide useful insights into: community health nurses' work with Australian Aboriginal people; the power relationships that permeate community health nursing practice; and the potential for nurses to play a key role in PHC and 'health for all'.
    Date of AwardSep 1998
    Original languageEnglish

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