Disability, nursing research and the importance of reflexivity


Ruth Northway School of Care Sciences, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd CF37 1DL, Wales.


Disability, nursing research and the importance of reflexivity

Reflexivity has been viewed as a way of promoting quality within the research process. Its importance is highlighted in both the literature concerning nursing research and that which relates to disability research. However, whilst disabled people comprise a key client group for nurses the need for nurse researchers working in this field to adopt a reflexive approach to their work has not been explored in depth. In this paper the relevance of reflexivity to nursing research is discussed and current debates concerning disability research are explored. It is argued that there are particular reasons why it is necessary for nurse researchers to adopt a reflexive approach when focusing on disability. First, there is a need to examine closely the definitions of disability which underpin our research and practice. Second, it is noted that nurse researchers may be viewed as part of a system which disables people with impairments. Finally, it is important to reflect critically upon whose interests are served by such research. Some strategies for promoting reflexivity are also explored. It is concluded that a failure to address these issues via a process of critical reflection may mean that nursing research is viewed as unhelpful by disabled people. This in turn has implications for nursing practice.