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Public health nurse perceptions of their role in early postpartum discharge Cusack, Cheryl Leah

Abstract

With early postpartum discharge (EPD), public health nurses (PHNs) are given the responsibility of community-based postpartum follow-up after hospital discharge, to promote the safety and well-being of new mothers and babies. Given the large number of births per year and the requirements for PHN follow-up, EPD has affected PHNs’ workload. The objectives of this qualitative, descriptive study were to: a) describe PHNs’ perceptions of EPD, b) document the effects of EPD on PHN practice, and c) describe the preferred role of PHNs in caring for postpartum women and newborns. The Canadian Health Nurses Association of Canada (CHNAC) standards of practice served as the conceptual framework for the study. Four sets of PHNs in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) participated in this study through 1- hour focus groups. The data were analysed using an inductive content analysis approach, in the form of constant comparative analysis. Three main themes and 10 sub-themes were identified. The three main themes were: a passion for the public health nurse role, the influence of early postpartum discharge on public health practice, and building a public health nursing future. The findings were discussed, and implications for nursing education, research, administration, practice, and policy described. The findings of this study point to the need to develop new and innovative approaches for providing EPD services to the public.

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