Sources of Inner Strength for Elderly People
Our current featured article comes to ANS from Finland authors Erika Boman, MSc, RNT; Anette H¨aggblom, PhD, RNT; Berit Lundman, PhD, RN; Bj¨orn Nygren, PhD, RNT and Regina Santamaki Fischer, PhD, RN. Their article is titled “Inner Strength as Identified in Narratives of Elderly Women: A Focus Group Interview Study.” While it is featured on the ANS web site, you can download your free copy of this article here! Erika Boman has shared this message for ANS readers:
Do you study inner strength? Is that possible? Those are questions often asked when presenting the research topic of our interest. And yes, I can see what they mean. If you google on inner strength today you get 14 200 000 hits where inner strength is interpreted in almost the same amount of ways. That is why I am so happy that I have been privileged to work with members in a research group that thoroughly have studied the concept, and through meta-analysis developed a theoretical model of inner strength. In the model inner strength is conceptualized by four interacting core dimensions: connectedness, creativity, firmness and flexibility. The core dimensions have explicit definition and are more in depth described in the article, with reference to the theoretical model. Further a questionnaire was developed to measure each dimension and thereby a person’s degree of inner strength. Studies, applying the scale, have for example shown that strong inner strength is associated with better self-rated health. And through literature review inner strength has been interpreted as a health resource for experiencing well-being despite illness.
My field of interest is related to health and quality of life among elderly women and elderly women, in general, outlive men, have impaired socio-economic and functional status, as well as report more health problems. I thought to myself – research is implying that inner strength is of importance for experiencing well-being despite illness. Identifying sources of inner strength can give health care personnel valuable information about elderly people’s capacities despite their frailty and weakness. So now there was this theoretical model defining the concept, a questionnaire to estimate a person’s degree of inner strength, as well as literature suggesting that inner strength is a health resource of importance. But, is it always applicable in nursing to use a questionnaire to estimate a person’s inner strength? What about criticism to nursing science being to theoretical? Is there some way we can enlighten how inner strength can be expressed in everyday conversations implementing the theoretical model? The aim of this study was therefor to explore how inner strength and its dimensions, as described in a theoretical model, can be identified in the narratives of elderly women. Focus group interviews where made with 29 women between the age of 66 and 84. Inner strength was identified in there narratives of the elderly women as a strive to be in communion, to make the best out of the situation, having a mind-set that it is all up to you, and considering life as a balancing act. Further descriptions are found in the article, where also possible application of the theoretical model in relation to previous research is discussed. The study is considered to add nuance to the notion of inner strength and deepen empirical knowledge about the concept. Finally, we hope that this study can be a contribution to narrowing theory to practice.
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