A framework for understanding clinical reasoning in community nursing

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Background: Clinical reasoning is employed to develop solutions to health needs. The impact of the clinical environment on the organization of knowledge-guiding practice has received limited attention. This gap in the clinical landscape restricts the sharing of decision-making processes. Aims: Focusing on the community, and specifically the patient's home as a context for nursing, this paper describes the creation of a collective conceptual map for a group of community nurses. There is a twofold aim of exploring the process of exposing and articulating the clinical framework and enhancing and sharing understanding of the clinical paradigm in this context. Design: An interpretive research approach was utilized. Hermeneutic phenomenology guided the level of meaning accessed and constructivism was used to build an educational picture. Methods: Multiple methods including focus groups, observation and narrative recordings were utilized to collect and analyse research data. Results: All nurses may engage with the same concepts – health, need, care and partnerships – but organized into particular frames by the guiding practice philosophy and service organization. A four-stage framework for understanding clinical reasoning in the community setting is presented. This acknowledges the multi-faceted nature of health, the lived experience of health deficits, and is located in a participation and negotiated model of care. Practice examples are presented to expose the construction of need and response which often occurs in a triadic decision-making process. Conclusions: Environment of care has significant implications on need identification and response. Relevance to clinical practice: Mechanisms to enhance the sharing of clinical reasoning and decision-making transparency are essential to aid inter- and intra-professional communication. Presentation of a clinical reasoning framework exposes the breath of 'signals' encountered in practice and the range of knowledge employed in understanding and responding to patient need.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)850-857
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


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