Nursing Practice and Context: The Relationship Between the Hospital Setting and Environmentally Responsible Practice

  • Author / Creator
    Kalogirou, Maya
  • Aim: The purpose of this study was to answer the following question: What are Albertan nurses’ beliefs related to climate change, health, and nursing practice, and how is their ability to practice in an environmentally responsible manner influenced by their workplace setting? Background: Climate change is a global crisis. Besides having implications for Earth’s natural systems, climate change also has negative consequences for human health. The health sector finds itself in a unique position where its purpose is to deliver healthcare services and keep populations healthy, however, it is also a significant emitter of greenhouse gases; these gases contribute to the climate crisis. Nurses comprise the largest group of healthcare practitioners around the world and their work is guided by their mandate to promote health. As such, they are well-positioned to be leaders in addressing climate change. However, little is known about how Albertan nurses understand climate change or its relationship with health and nursing practice. Moreover, it is not well understood how working in the hospital setting, where most Canadian nurses are employed, influences nurses’ abilities to practice in environmentally responsible ways. Methods: A focused ethnography was conducted at a large western Canadian hospital. Nurses working in three medicine units and the emergency room participated (n=22). Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and observations were collected. A document analysis of policies outlining how staff should utilize, spare, or waste hospital resources was also conducted. Results: Three manuscripts resulted from this work. 1) The first manuscript presents the findings from the document analysis, in which the hospital did not integrate climate change into its workplace policies, thus suggesting that this was not an organizational priority. 2) The second manuscript answers the first half of the research question and identifies nurses’ perspectives on climate change, health, and nursing practice. 3) The final manuscript answers the second half of the research question. Findings show that nurses felt unable to prioritize environmentally responsible practice (ERP) or climate change because they did not feel like their organization supported them in doing so. Conclusion: First, nurses had diverse understandings of climate change, health, and nursing practice. This could be an indication that climate change is not widely viewed to be a professional nursing concern yet. Second, nurses did not feel supported by their workplace setting to promote ERP or prioritize climate change and wanted to see change coming from the top-down. Although top-down change is important, and partnership between nurses and their workplace is essential, nurses must also enact change from the bottom-up. Climate change is a complex problem, and nurses must take on a leadership role to address it.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.