Ross, Angela (2005) Professional identities, inter-professional relationships and collaborative working : an investigation using a constructivist phenomenological approach. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This research project sets out to explore, analyse and theorise the way district nurses
and social care workers construe their identity, and their relationships within the
changing context of collaborative projects. Unlike previous research in this field, this
project offers an alternative, relational view of exploring professional identities and
inter-professional relationships. The research adopted a constructivist
phenomenological approach drawing upon the theories of personal construct
psychology (Kelly, 1955) and existential phenomenology (Merleau Ponty, 1962), as
elaborated by Butt (2004, 1998).

The project consists of three studies. The first empirical work is a preliminary study
using individual interviews of students undertaking degree courses in community
nursing or social work. This study is concerned with examining the students' concepts
of what it means to belong to a particular occupational group and the influences that
shape their ideas. Using focus groups and individual interviews, the second study
explores how district nurses and social care workers negotiate their identity as a result
of national changes and service developments. The final study explores interprofessional
relationships of individual district nurses and social care workers, using
reflective interview techniques (Hargreave, 1979, Salmon, 2003).

In keeping with phenomenological methodology, data was analysed using template
analysis (King, 2004). A number of emerging constructs were identified that highlight
the personal, historical and contextual influences upon professional role construction
and inter-professional relationships, notably: visibility and recognition, role flexibility
and rigidity. In particular the findings illustrate how professional identity is
constructed, challenged, and reconstructed, through on-going interaction. To facilitate
role re-construction and sociality, the reflective interview techniques were adapted
and extended to encourage practitioners to reflect upon their every-day practice and
relationships when working in a multi-disciplinary setting.

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