"Because we've always done it that way": a scoping review of manuscripts on nursing from the 1500s to 1850s

Langtree, Tanya, Birks, Melanie, Biedermann, Narelle, and Ralph, Nicholas (2017) "Because we've always done it that way": a scoping review of manuscripts on nursing from the 1500s to 1850s. In: Abstracts from the 34th Annual AAHN Nursing & Healthcare History Conference. 4A. p. 28. From: 34th Annual American Association for the History of Nursing (AAHN) Nursing and Healthcare History Conference, 7-9 September 2017, Rochester, NY, USA.

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Abstract

Purpose of Study: This presentation describes the findings of a scoping review of manuscripts regarding the foundations of nursing practice that were produced between the 1500s to 1850s in Europe, North America and Australia. This review identifies and describes the key content themes contained in these manuscripts.

Rationale and Significance: Contemporary nursing has long been associated with the publication in 1859 of Nightingale's Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not. However, the discovery of a 1617 Spanish treatise Instruccions de Enfermeros (IdE) [Instructions for Nurses], highlights that highlights that at least one manuscript was written about the profession at least two centuries prior to Nightingale.

IdE described the foundational cares performed by the nurse in seventeenth century Spain. Incorporated into each descriptor of care was a rationale that was supported by (then contemporary) scientific and/or clinical reasoning. Hence, the information presented in IdE is similar to the structural organization of contemporary fundamentals of nursing texts. The inclusion of such elements in IdE suggests core aspects of today's professional identity and clinical practice evolved through the transgenerational sharing of knowledge across cultures. However, as a profession we know little about the existence of such manuscripts prior to Notes on Nursing, and how, or if, they helped shape contemporary nursing practice.

Description of Methodology: Data collection for this review involved several stages: locating potential sources (database and catalogue search); preliminary review (key word appraisal, inclusion/exclusion criteria applied); secondary review (confirmation of content, manual searching of reference lists, primary source located via internet search); determining the authenticity of each source; and charting the data. Additional inclusion criteria used in this review was that the manuscript could be published or unpublished. Exclusion criteria employed in this review was that the work must be non-fiction. A thematic analysis of each source was then performed and the key themes were identified.

Major Primary and Secondary Sources: After searching six different databases over a period of four months, fourteen digitized primary sources were located.

Findings and Conclusions: The manuscripts discovered in this review were written between 1541 and 1859, with the majority originating from Spain. Key themes that were identified included procedural considerations such as hygiene care; comfort measures; sanitation; and treatment regimens. Contemporary professional issues such as advocacy, communication and resource management were also evident. Their presence intimates that nursing identity and professional standards originated prior to Nightingale’s reformation.

Item ID: 64734
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
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Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2020 23:38
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4205 Nursing > 420599 Nursing not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920210 Nursing @ 100%
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