Community development: Theoretical and practical issues for community health nursing in Canada
Despite the importance currently given to community development as an increasingly significant role for community nurses, there is little analysis of the role in the nursing literature. This paper provides background information on the historical origins of community development work through an extensive review of the literature. As well, four models of community development are synthesised from literature in sociology, social psychology, education and political science. These include economic development models, education models both formal and informal, confrontational models, and empowerment models. Each is discussed, and the relevance for community health nursing practice is critiqued. Finally, issues which may arise when community health nurses attempt to practice within a community development model are discussed. Issues are examined related to the structures of organizations in which nurses work, characteristics of nurses themselves, and the communities which nurses serve. The argument is advanced that despite the pitfalls and problems, this new role shows promise as an important mechanism for community health nurses to promote the community's health. However, much additional work will be needed to test out models for community development in actual practice. Evaluation of the role will also be important to determine the degree to which it can be implemented and the resultant health outcomes for the population.
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