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Summer is here. Living should be easy. I have resolved to let go of my professional life for the season. I am aiming for a mind at ease, my thoughts wandering backwards and forwards in time, around and about in place, unstructured as I sample memories and make plans in the haziest of ways.
I find myself remembering a past summer, a busier one. I was preparing a talk on psychometric methods in nursing research. I was curious about the early use of psychometric approaches, so I turned to Nursing Research (vol. 1). The title of the sole primary report in the inaugural issue caught my eye, The Personal Adjustment of Chronically Ill Old People Under Home Care. The topic seemed timely, so I read on. I was hooked. Nursing Research proved a page turner, filled with engaging content. I studied the Table of Contents for every issue and read papers from most of them.
Time passed as the volumes, in sequence, moved from the shelves. Why was I surprised that, earlier on, the most frequently studied concept seemed to have been temperature? Patient satisfaction was measured using statements capturing timeless aspects of effective nursing: "My call for a nurse was answered very promptly. My nurse was especially nice to me. Bedpan was brought and taken away very quickly." A poignant series of statements asked about readiness for surgery: "Will my husband and children manage all right while I am in the hospital? Will I be able to stand the pain? I am praying for the grace to endure this." I rediscovered articles read as an undergraduate, catching again the infectious excitement of my teachers for the prospect of research-based practice. Papers marked "required reading" for graduate courses emerged as classics. My name appeared on a list of authors. Suddenly (so it seemed) I held responsibility for some content. I reread, in print, a paper I had reviewed and recommended for publication. My thoughts sharpened, honed by the habit of critique. I took stock. Systematically parsed by the nursing metaparadigm, framed by theory, and supported by models surviving the confrontation with data, the content created a rich picture of person, environment, health, and nursing (cf. Henly, Vermeersch, & Duckett, 1998, p. 353).
Now this content, once so satisfactory, has become a source of discontent. The statics of the models, actors posed and actions implied, left little room for understanding the dynamics of health behaviors and illness responses, of nursing interventions and outcomes. Time, change, and health trajectories are on my mind. My summer reading list, focusing on methods and models for longitudinal research, is deliberately constructed but without any specific problem to solve. I am enjoying the uncluttered moments, filled with possibility.
Make time for the lassitude of summer. Your musings may become the future content of nursing research that forms the contents of Nursing Research.
Susan J. Henly, PhD, RN
Minnesota Center for Health Trajectory Research
Henly, S. J., Vermeersch, P. E., & Duckett, L. J. (1998). Model selection for covariance structures analysis in nursing research. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 20, 344-355. [Context Link]
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