JOURNAL ARTICLE

Health visiting assessment processes under scrutiny: a case study of knowledge use during family health needs assessments

Jane V Appleton, Sarah Cowley
International Journal of Nursing Studies 2008, 45 (5): 682-96
17418848

BACKGROUND: Accurate assessment of family health need is a core health visiting skill, requiring considerable knowledge and expertise. To date, there has been only limited empirical examination of the types of knowledge and ways of knowing which are likely to influence health visiting practice during family health needs assessments.

OBJECTIVES: This paper will present a detailed analysis of health visiting assessment processes and will explicate some of the many elements associated with the processes of identifying and assessing family health needs.

DESIGN: An in-depth case study was undertaken to explore health visiting practice across three study sites. The focus of interest was to attempt to understand the factors that may influence a health visitor in making a professional judgement to offer a family extra support.

SETTINGS: The study was conducted in three community Trust case sites in England, UK.

METHODS AND PARTICIPANTS: The study was informed by a constructivist methodology. Data collection took place during 56 observed home visits to families receiving increased health visiting support and intervention. Following the home visits separate in-depth interviews were undertaken with the health visitors and the clients.

RESULTS/CONCLUSIONS: This paper will explicate some of the many elements associated with the processes of identifying and assessing family health needs. It endeavours to unravel some of the complexity and intricacies of these processes and provide insights into health visitors' practical 'know-how'.

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