Attitudinal shifting: a grounded theory of health promotion in coronary care
Current New Zealand health policy encourages collaborative health promotion in all sectors of health service delivery. The integrated approach to the acute management of coronary heart disease in a coronary care unit, combining medical therapy and lifestyle change, supports clinical health promotion. The aim of this study was to use the grounded theory approach to discover the main concerns of nurses' promoting health in an acute coronary care setting and to explain the processes that nurses used to integrate health promotional activities into their practice. Seventeen registered nurses from three coronary care units within a large metropolitan city in New Zealand were interviewed. Data were constantly compared and analysed using Glaser's emergent approach to grounded theory.The main concern for nurses promoting health within coronary care was ritualistic practice. In this study, ritualistic practice concerns the medically-based protocols, routines, language and technology that drives nursing practice in coronary care. This concern was resolved via the socio-cultural process of attitudinal shifting that occurs over time involving three stages. The three conceptual categories, environmental pressures, practice reality and responsive action are the main components of the theory of attitudinal shifting. In environmental pressures nurses experience a tension between specialist medically-dominated nursing practice and the generalist nursing role of promoting health. In practice reality, nurses become aware that the individual needs of patients are not being met. This causes role conflict until the nurse observes colleagues who role model possibilities for practice, working with patients to promote health. Responsive action sees the nurse engaging in self-development, also focusing on the nurse-patient relationship, thereby enabling active patient involvement in individual health-promoting decisions.The findings from this research have implications for nursing practice and education. With the increasing specialisation in nursing practice, these findings may be of interest to nurses working in delegated medical roles where the reality of everyday practice precludes nurses from undertaking their essential nursing role. Health care facilities also need to ensure that there are opportunities for the personal and professional development of nursing staff. The place of health promotion within nursing undergraduate curricula needs to be examined, as many nurses found that they were ill prepared for undertaking health promotional activities.