Readings in Nursing, edited by M. M. Colledge and D. Jones. New York, Churchill Livingstone, 1979. 250 pages. $17.50.
The trend toward increased specialization in practice, along with a knowledge explosion and time limitations, has pressured many nurses to read only specialized materials. Readings in Nursing offers a change and a choice by presenting information that is useful to nurses in a variety of specialty areas and practice settings. Rather than merely listing scientific facts the book is conceptually oriented, which makes it more interesting and useful.
The editors state that the purpose of the book is to present the reader with a comprehensive view of subject areas relevant to nursing care. That purpose is achieved in a refreshingly portable (9" x 51/2), concisely written, and highly readable book. Although a wide variety of facts, issues, and concepts is presented by 17 contributors, the chapters flow together and several are integrated extraordinarily well. This feat was probably achieved because the 16 chapters are all original contributions and therefore subject to some direction and control by the editors.
The book is divided into three parts. Part one deals with the biological basis of nursing care. Five chapters discuss body composition, homeostasis, the metabolic response to trauma and the principles of nutritional support, nutridonai care of patients, and infection its prevention. The aim of part is to relate principles of biological science to nursing care. Information is presented on body structure and function, with some biochemistry. Homeostasis is presented as a highly dynamic concept rather than a static concept. An interesting analogy is made by the author: shoppers who are panic-buying during periods of shortages to prevent disruption of life styles are compared with living organisms, which protect themselves from excessive and dramatic changes in the environment.
Nurses should find the information on the assessment of nutritional depletion, metabolic and nutritional changes after trauma, and methods of nutritional support presented in Chapter 3 both interesting and useful. Regrettably, hyperalimentation therapy does not receive the attention itdeserves. The chapter on infection and its prevention is comprehensive and includes a review of microbiology. Nosocomial infections are discussed. Numerous causes of immunodeficiency, including age, are presented.
In part two theoretical and methodological concepts of nursing are addressed in four chapters. Students, graduates, and faculty all should find this section of the book valuable. One chapter is concerned with the definition of nursing and a listing of human needs. This information is then articulated into an interesting discussion of nursing based on a "model of living." Another chapter presents the role of research in community nursing and includes a creative presentation of the concept of "research mindedness," an attitude of the mind rather than a skill or ability. The direct and indirect roles of nurses in research participation also are included. Comments on the critical role of accurate record keeping are relevant for nurses who practice in a variety of institutional and bureaucratic settings.
Increased complexity in the delivery of nursing care today mandates attention to the issue of ethics or bioethics. An asset of this book is that one chapter is devoted to ethical issues in nursing. The meaning of ethics is followed by a comprehensive discussion of the concept of "responsibility" to patients/clients, to colleagues, to oneself, and to society. The discussion of responsibility to patients includes issues on clinical research, nurse strikes, and nurse-patient confidentiality. Some bias in the discussion of strikes was evident. Whereas many writings on ethics remain at the theoretical and/or hypothetical level, this chapter presents clinical situations and facilitates the reader's application of ethical concepts to the clinical setting. The Code of Professional Conduct developed by the Royal College of Nursing also is included and provides a useful reference. The final chapter of this section presents a variety of concepts and issues in sociological theory related to nursing. Individuals who have difficulty relating theory to practice should find this chapter helpful.
Seven chapters comprise part three, which focuses upon the sociological aspects of nursing care. Here major, albeit eclectic, issues are presented. One chapter discusses borrowing of sociological theory and utilization of ethnographic research to develop knowledge and theory in nursing. Other chapters discuss disease, illness behavior and the sick role, and socialization in hospital setting roles. The often neglected subject of the role of men in nursing is addressed in Chapter 13, and a superb historical overview is included. The familiar three types of leadership styles (laissez faire, authoritarian, and democratic) are intriguingly presented in Chapter 14 as three models of approaches to health care policy. Contraception, fertility, abortion, and unwanted pregnancy are discussed in another chapter. The final chapter concerns aging and health care. Theory, population statistics, and health care planning are presented from a sociological and British perspective, which should be interesting to American gerontological nurses.
Although Readings in Nursing is not written from a developmental or gerontological perspective, it strengthens the reader's foundation in biological, sociological, and nursing science. This foundation helps provide the nurse with knowledge to interpret better readings in a specialty area.
The book has several deficits, but none of them is major. The most serious deficit is the absence of an index, which can be extremely frustrating when attempting to relocate a particular fact or passage. The book also is somewhat expensive for its size. However, the book is hardbound, printed on high-grade paper, and contains information not found in other texts. Some readers may be slightly distracted by differences in laboratory value presentations and British spelling and phraseology. Reference lists for the chapters are comprehensive, although some journals and books are available only in Europe.
The book is written for students and graduates at the baccalaureate level and beyond, and for faculty. From ethics to nitrogen balance, from set level and rate detectors to sick role, this clearly written, very readable British text should be useful for nurses interested in the what and why of science and, more importantly, in how to apply that science to clinical practice.