Advances in Contemporary Community and Family Health Care (2nd edn)

Special Issue of Contemporary Nurse

Volume 40 Issue 1 December 2011

ii+126 pages ISBN 978-1-921729-28-7

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A special issue of Contemporary Nurse

ISBN 978-1-921729-28-7  ~  ii+126 pages  ~  October 2011

Guest editors

Anne McMurray, Adjunct Professor, Research Centre for Clinical and Community Practice, Innovation, Griffith University, Gold Coast QLD, Australia

Mark Hayter, Reader in Nursing and Head of Taught Post Graduate Programmes, The University of Sheffield School of Nursing and Midwifery, UK

The promise of healthy, vibrant, socially connected families lies in the extent to which their community can provide a safe, sustainable, and healthy environment. Healthy communities are those where belonging is valued, and the connection between health and place is acknowledged. The role of nurses in helping secure and sustain healthy families and communities involves promoting social and political conditions that can help citizens build capacity, sustain their choices for health and wellbeing, reduce the risk of ill health or injury, and receive adequate and appropriate care when it is required.

To date, there have been few examples in the professional literature of successful, enabling communities or the link between enabling environments and health outcomes. There are indications that features of the built environment such as open green spaces, are instrumental in improving people’s quality of life (Cattell, Dines, Gesler, & Curtis, 2008; Maas, van Dillen, Verheij, & Groenewegen, 2009).

Therapeutic landscapes in the city or country are also known to foster a sense of belonging and social integration as well as a spirit of civic participation, all of which can help counter adversity (Cattell et al., 2008). The role of ‘place’ in supporting the health of children and adolescents is also well established in the international research literature (Duff, 2009; Dunn, Froehlich, Ross, Curtis, & Sanmartin, 2006; Leventhal & Brooks- Gunn, 2000). Neighbourhood influences on child health and development have been found to be mediated through the quality of resources and relationships as well as collective norms of behaviour (Brooks-Gunn, cited in Andrews, 2010). One of the greatest gaps in our literature of the enabling community for child health lies in understanding the breadth of community factors that would support parenting, such as services, transportation, play areas and job opportunities, particularly in rural and remote areas (Andrews, 2010).

On a global scale, there is widespread concern that physical environments are deteriorating, and this has a significant impact on children’s opportunities for outdoor activities. Health and developmental researchers have expressed concern that today’s children are experiencing reduced access to neighbourhood outdoor spaces for child-driven free play, which has unique developmental benefits (Castonguay & Jutras, 2009). This is occurring in the face of empirical studies showing that access to outdoor play areas can promote children’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional health, and help them develop resiliency and friendships as well as create patterns for mutual support that can last into adult life (Castonguay & Jutras, 2009).

Nurses and other health professionals are part of the dynamic pattern of interaction between health and place. By sharing local wisdom and continuing to map the structures, processes and outcomes of family and community life, we can forge new understandings of the enabling communities that provide a safe, healthy, equitable, accessible and inclusive pathway from birth to the end of life.  This Special Issue aims to do just that.


Related special issue from Contemporary Nurse

“Advances in Contemporary Community and Family Health Care (1st edn)”
Editors: Debra Jackson School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney, NSW Philip Darbyshire Department of Nursing and Midwifery Research and Practice Development University of South Australia, SA Important aspects of support make it necessary to spend more time with parents and families: mor...Visit Website


Related special issue from Health Sociology Review

“Social Equity and Health”
Editor: Toni Schofield Behavioural and Community Health Sciences University of Sydney NSW, Australia Social Equity and Health alludes to several important and inter-related questions: one being the social determinants of health and the distribution of health and illness among different social grou...Visit Website



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