Is a Picture Worth 1,000 words?

Sometimes the best way to answer a research question is to have the participants draw pictures & explain them.  In fact, some have identified art as a powerful communication tool between children and researchers.   The pictures are then analyzed for themes that show up in the drawings.  No numbers or statistics are used.

Methods: When Brady (2009) wondered how children defined a “good nurse,” she asked 22 ethnically diverse, hospitalized girls and boys aged 7-12 years to draw a picture of a good nurse and a bad nurse.  After the children drew their pictures she asked them to tell her what the nurse was wearing and doing.

Results & discussion: What did the pictures say? Drawings and comments suggested that the children focused on these 5 thematic characteristics for a good nurse:  “communication; professional competence; safety; professional appearance; and virtues,” (p.543) such as honesty, listening, kindness, trustworthiness, & being reassuring & fun. 11-year-old Jason communicated some of it in GoodNurse_BadNurse2Figure 4 on page 552.   12-year-old Luke also showed a sharp contrast in Figure 7 on page 556 that is at the top of this blog.  Children valued a reciprocal relationship with their nurses, caring, and safe/professional behavior. Play was one of many things important to them.

Commentary: While the sample is not representative of a larger group and I would question the authors claim to use grounded theory, the study forms the basis for further research.  Additionally these ideas can help us listen more closely to our own pediatric patients.   It would be particularly interesting to compare these 5 themes to how adult patients of various ages describe a good nurse and a bad nurse.

Critical thinking:  How do you think these children’s perspectives compare with the perspectives of your own pediatric patient population?QUESTION

For more information: See Brady, M. (2009). Hospitalized children’s views of the good nurse, Nursing Ethics, 16(5). doi: 10.1177/0969733009106648

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