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Locked up: Researching in an unfamiliar environment

Authors

  • Barbara Beale RN, CM, MN (Hons), FRCNA, FCN ,

    1. Lecturer, School of Health and Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Nepean, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Karen Martin RN, RPN, BN, MCN ,

    1. Clinical Nurse Specialist, Mental Health Rehabilitation Services, Manly Hospital and Community Services, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Lynda Ann Jarvis RN, CM, MA (App Psych), MCN

    1. Lecturer, School of Health and Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Nepean New South Wales, Australia
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Correspondence: BarbaraBeale School of Health and Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Nepean, PO Box 10, Kingswood, NSW 2747, Australia. Fax: +61 2473 60658. Email: < b.beale@nepean.uws.edu.au>

Abstract

This paper describes the personal experiences of three nurse researchers who entered a new field, one they would not normally encounter. The experiences occurred during a research project involving detainees in Juvenile Justice Centres in New South Wales, Australia. The Healthy Lifestyle Check computerized health screening program was used to seek responses regarding the detainees’ health behaviours, knowledge of health services and health education needs. Physical assessment was conducted and counselling and referral was provided. The researchers’ best endeavours to prepare for the field were not enough for the reality of the controlled environment, fears for personal safety and the stamina required to complete the project. The researchers’ completion of the project enriched their professional lives with a sense of achievement and a new confidence in their ability to work in uncharted fields. Implications for future nursing research that incorporates fieldwork in this environment include: (i) ensuring adequate knowledge of security protocols; (ii) securing access to participants; and (iii) ensuring adequate physical assistance for fieldworkers to enter.

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