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Scand J Caring Sci. 2009 Mar;23(1):84-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2007.00593.x. Epub 2008 Sep 18.

Development of professional knowledge in action: experiences from an action science design focusing on acknowledging communication in mental health.

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Department of Health, Molde University College, Molde, Norway.


This article reports a multi-professional development project that was based on an action science design. The purpose was to develop 'acknowledging communication' in a psychiatric department for young people, and the objective to study the staffs' experiences of participating in the project. The professional part of the project has its foundation in Schibbye's treatment theory of inter-subjective understanding of relationships, and involves three main approaches from her theory: self-reflection, self-delimitation and emotional presence. The article presents the specific action design used, where reflection processes were developed in three different arenas: multidisciplinary Reflection groups, a Leader support group for the group leaders of the Reflection groups and collective Project seminars for all employees. A formal study programme designed to increase professional expertise, 15 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), was also offered. The research methods included the researcher's process notes taken during the process, field notes from participating in the Leader support group, and qualitative interviews of eight informants participating in the various reflection arenas. The article presents and discusses the experiences evolved from the methods that were developed during the professional action science project: reflection on specific situations of interaction with patients in the form of oral/written narratives and the development of video presentations in combination with 'reflective teams'. The study showed that to facilitate change in the role of staff members, it is important to combine several reflection arenas where theoretical principles can be converted into practical action. By drawing data from only one study site, the study has a limited transferability, but should be of interest for professionals working with clinical change processes.

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