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Identifying the scope of practice in nursing specialties using child and adolescent mental health as an illustration

Philippa Rasmussen (School of Nursing, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 13 July 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explore the applicability of the process of identifying a conceptual framework of practice to areas of nursing without a current clearly identified scope of practice. Worldwide, nursing is a diverse profession with many recognised sub-specialties, some of which are under threat. Nurses with specialised knowledge, experience and education are needed to provide specific care in nursing sub-specialties. However, some of these characteristics are implicit and not clear to the wider nursing community. This paper presents an overview of research to identify the parameters of practice for a sub-specialty of nursing.


The methodology was interpretive enquiry as it allowed for the interpretation of multiple realities which resulted in a rich description of the work of a sub-specialty. The research used document analysis, focus group interviews and individual interviews as the methods of collecting data. Documents were analysed using iterative and thematic analysis The focus group and individual interview data were analysed using an adaptation of a six-phase thematic analysis process.


This paper presents the findings of the entire analysis and the resultant holistic conceptual framework for the work of the child and adolescent mental health nurse in the inpatient unit. The findings have contributed new knowledge to mental health nursing, specifically child and adolescent mental health nursing making the parameters of practice more explicit. Research is currently being undertaken in Australia to further develop the framework for other sub-specialties of nursing such as community health and orthopaedics. These sub-specialties have been identified as potentially at risk.


This paper discussed the applicability of a broader use of a qualitative research methodology used to identify scope of practice in child and adolescent mental health nursing, for other nursing specialties.



Rasmussen, P. (2015), "Identifying the scope of practice in nursing specialties using child and adolescent mental health as an illustration", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 150-158.



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