Humanism and its critiques in nursing research literature
Article first published online: 9 MAR 2009
© 2009 The Author. Journal compilation © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume 65, Issue 7, pages 1560–1567, July 2009
How to Cite
Traynor, M. (2009), Humanism and its critiques in nursing research literature. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 65: 1560–1567. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2008.04956.x
- Issue published online: 1 JUN 2009
- Article first published online: 9 MAR 2009
- Accepted for publication 15 December 2008
- qualitative research
Title. Humanism and its critiques in nursing research literature.
Aim. This paper raises for debate the issue of how humanist ideas have been taken up by nurse scholars, particularly in research literature.
Background. Many nurses from the mid-1970s onwards have described and promoted humanism as an appropriate philosophical basis for nursing practice and research. This has been partly in an attempt to sharply differentiate the profession from medicine, and later, managerialism, which have been represented as reductionist and failing to adequately respond to the whole patient.
Methods. A summary of definitions of humanism and critiques of humanism in broad philosophical literature is followed by an examination and critique of literature appearing in PubMed published within nursing scholarship from 1976 to 2007 which discusses or promotes humanism in nursing practice or research.
Findings. Writers have attempted to enhance the importance of nursing by associating it with the humanistic project of accepting responsibility for realizing our human potential. They have promoted a version of research which is qualitative and centres on understanding individual lifeworlds of research participants because of a strong valuing of the experiences and perspectives of the individual. Much of the literature on this topic describes this humanism in dualistic contrast to medico-scientific reductionism and objectivity.
Conclusion. Some of the presentations of humanistic nursing lack rigour and can be seen as doing little more than reproducing professional ideology. Scholars and others in the field of nursing could take the trouble to submit these ideologies to proper scrutiny.