Expert Nurses' Conceptualization of Healing
Despite the concept of healing being central to nursing, there has been a lack of conceptual clarity. This study sought to understand how expert nurses in practice conceptualize healing and how this conceptualization affects their practice. The sample consisted of 50 practicing nurses from multiple practice settings in an academic health system in Western Massachusetts. The study used a mixed method design using an electronic adaptation of the Delphi method. Findings from the study suggested a high level of consensus about the concept of healing in nursing. Qualitative data from the open-ended questions of Round 1 were coded into items about healing on subsequent quantitative surveys in Rounds 2 and 3. Participants ranked their level of agreement or disagreement with these statements. Ultimately, 49 statements met the a priori criteria for consensus as to what healing means from a nursing perspective. The overarching themes of statements were comprised of Nursing Actions to Promote Healing, Theoretical Understanding of Healing, Nurse Attributes to Promote Healing, Other Factors that Promote Healing, Types of Healing and Assessment of Healing. This study adds to the literature an exclusively nursing perspective on healing. The nursing-specific concept of healing synthesized from the data could be described as progression towards wholeness, with subjective and objective outcomes, promoted by the actions of nurses. The clarification of the concept of healing can inform research to create measurements for healing. It also can improve practice by articulating an existent conceptual framework, allowing nurses and administrators to better promote healing both directly and indirectly. Lastly, the results of this study offer students a simple yet accurate way of prioritizing nursing interventions.