Embodied practice: rediscovering the 'heart' of nursing

Draper, Jan (2014). Embodied practice: rediscovering the 'heart' of nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(10) pp. 2235–2244.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.12406


Aims: The paper explores the importance of embodiment in nursing. It examines different sources of authoritative knowledge concerning the body and embodiment. It argues that dominant scientific and medical epistemologies of the body have displaced and marginalised embodied epistemologies, creating only a partial understanding of the embodied experiences of our patients and our own embodiment as nurses.

Background: Over the last twenty years there has been a rapid expansion of theoretical literature concerning the body and embodiment, spanning a range of disciplines. The potential of these insights to the essentially ‘body-based’ practice of nursing is highly significant. However, although work in this area is now increasing theoretical and empirical investigation of the body and embodiment in nursing has remained relatively neglected.

Design: Discussion paper

Data Sources: Conventional approaches to systematic searching of the literature were not adopted for this conceptual paper. Seminal texts predominantly from nursing and sociology accompanied by more recent sources were used as a platform for theoretical reflection and to inform development of the conceptual arguments.

Implications for Nursing: The paper proposes a corporeal (re)turn to nursing practice, one that recognises the lived embodied experience of the patient and the embodied skill and knowledge of the nurse and examines the implications for contemporary person-centred nursing practice, research and education.

Conclusion: At a significant juncture in nursing’s history when there is greater international focus on delivering higher standards of care, the paper calls for a repositioning of the place of embodiment in nursing.

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