• action research;
  • child nursing;
  • communication;
  • health visitor;
  • nurse-patient relationships;
  • telenursing;
  • telephone consultations


Title. Solution-focused conversations: a new therapeutic strategy in well child health nursing telephone consultations

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to explore well child nurses’ perceptions of outcomes resulting from the use of solution-focused conversations in their telephone consultations with clients.

Background.  Well child nurses (health visitors) in some services provide a separate telephone consultation service for parents who need immediate advice or are unable to visit the clinic. As well as purely physical issues suggesting infant pathology, these consultations address a range of other concerns relating to parenting and child behaviour. The standard problem-solving approach used to address physical issues is less effective for various non-physical concerns, where different communication strategies may be helpful.

Method.  In this qualitative, action-oriented study, a small group of well child telenurses in New Zealand was introduced to a specific communication strategy, called ‘solution-focused conversations’, during 2005. They applied this approach in their practice and then reflected together on their experiences in focus groups.

Findings.  The nurses considered that the solution-focused conversations enabled clients to: recognize the nature of the parenting issue of concern that had motivated their call; identify more effective parenting practices to address specific issues with their child; increase their confidence in their own parenting capabilities.

Conclusion.  This study suggested the value of learning a specific communication strategy for the practice of a group of well child telenurses. Solution-focused conversation is a suitable approach for the single, relatively short, interactions involved in telephone nursing. Other communication strategies could be appropriate for nurses in different clinical situations.