Thursday, July 22, 2004
This presentation is part of : Marginalization and People's Health
What's in a Name? A Comparative Study of the History of Intellectual Disabilities Nursing in the United Kingdom and United States
Duncan Mitchell, BA, RN, MA, PhD, School of Nursing, University of Salford, Salford, GTR MANCHESTER, United Kingdom and Wendy M. Nehring, RN, MS, PhD, College of Nursing, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, NJ, USA.
Learning Objective #1: Identify similarities and differences between the histories of intellectual disabilities nursing in the UK and USA
Learning Objective #2: Analyse the way in which the present position of intellectual disabilities nursing is influenced by the past

Objective: This paper will report on a comparative historical study that considers similarities and differences between the development of intellectual disability nursing in the United States and the United Kingdom. Design: An historical study comparing the development of two similar areas of nursing in two countries. Years: The common period for comparison of primary material was 1895-1959. Methods: Themes from original research were shared in correspondence between the authors over an eighteen month period. The themes were originally restricted to those that were pertinent to both countries and these were then examined to identify differences between them. The primary sources were combinations of written archival evidence, personal collections, contemporary published material and oral history interviews. Interestingly both researchers discovered a paucity of accessible source material for the study of the nurses in both countries. Findings: Themes identified were - language (specifically of definition); nurses role in the development of community care; institutional cultures; influence of the eugenics movement on institutional services; methods of education for nurses; realtionships within nursing, and confusion with mental nursing; nurse registration and specialisation. Conclusions: Whilst there were common themes in the history of nursing between both cuntries, there were significant differences in the way that nursing developed and was organised. Similarities include the marginalisation of this area of work within nursing, its confusion with mental health nursing and a general confusion of professional definition and identity. There is also a shared history of institutional oppression that nurses in both countries have had to recognise in order to move forward as a professional group. Implications: Specialisms within nursing that have hitherto felt isolated within their own countries have significant international similarities. Comparative historical study of this nature help to build international nursing collaboration and enhance knowledge within the subject.

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Sigma Theta Tau International
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