Date of Submission



Through this hermeneutic study I sought to explicate the practice knowledge of nursing on residential adolescent mental health units. I did this by seeking to understand what nurse's and adolescent's stories of nursing, or being nursed, revealed about the knowledge informing practice within that context. Seven nurses and seven young people shared their experiences. Taped and written stories, and survey material, provided texts for analysis and interpretation. As stories centred around specific nurse-adolescent interactions they pointed to the knowledge informing practice within those encounters. Thus, practice knowledge was explicated through interpretation of the actual experiences of nurses and adolescents. Study findings were conceptualised as sub-elements, elements and a meta-element of practice knowledge. Ninety one ""sub-elements of practice knowledge"" were identified and defined. These subelements illustrate how nurses work with adolescents. The subelements were grouped into four ""elements of practice knowledge"" and defined. The elements are: (I) engaging in therapeutic relationships, (2) providing a therapeutic milieu, (3) guiding the potential for change, and (4) facilitating positive outcomes. These elements point to the reasons behind nursing actions. Through examination of the sub-elements and elements the ""meta-element of practice knowledge"" was developed and defined. The meta -element ""fostering a functional self' describes the aim and outcomes of adolescent mental health nursing practice by noting the way nurses foster the adolescent's reintegration and wellness. A paucity of adolescent mental health nursing research has resulted in the knowledge informing practice within the specialty remaining virtually unknown.;The study findings are thus salient as they: (l) reveal the practice knowledge of adolescent mental health nursing, (2) identify theories used in practice, (3) provide a basis for theory testing research, (4) assist nurse education by noting the how, what and why of practice and the therapeutic outcomes from the use of practice knowledge, and (5) attest to the contribution adolescent mental health nurses make to adolescents, families and society.


School of Nursing

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


450 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Health Sciences


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