6 February 2024

Professor in Nursing recognised for innovative arts based research

Julie McGarry, Professor in Nursing and Gender Based Violence, has been named as the recipient of the Sigma European award for Excellence in Nursing Research 2024.

The prestigious European award is being given in recognition in recognition of the significant impact her arts-based research has had on the nursing profession.

Through her groundbreaking research, Julie has empowered domestic abuse survivors and those who have suffered sexual harm to communicate lived experiences that would otherwise remain undisclosed to healthcare professionals.

Domestic abuse and sexual harm have an immediate and long-term impact on mental and physical health, with vulnerable groups often in frequent contact with nurses and healthcare professionals as a result. However, they rarely disclose lived experiences in a healthcare settings and nurses often feel ill prepared to support disclosure.

Improving the quality of health care responses for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual harm

Using a range of arts as a medium, Julie’s research has used different forms of expression, such as storytelling, painting, collage, poetry, photography, video stories, clay, textiles and animation, to empower victims and underrepresented groups to share perceptions and experiences alongside nurses and healthcare professionals.

This has played a leading role in influencing national policy, and Julie was part of the expert reference group who contributed to the development of the Sexual Safety Collaborative Standards and Guidance to Improve Sexual Safety on Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Inpatient Pathways. These standards were coproduced with those with lived experiences of domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental health and learning disabilities, and are now used by healthcare professionals to keep staff and visiting staff, families, friends and visitors within the inpatient environment safe.

By helping to reframe the prevailing healthcare narrative from ‘what is the matter with you’ to ‘what matters to you?’, her research has also changed the way healthcare professionals recognise and support domestic abuse victims and vulnerable groups.

Julie, who holds a joint Professor in Nursing and Gender Based Violence role at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield, said: “I am deeply honoured to be accepting this prestigious award. The value of personal narrative cannot be underestimated, and through my research we have been able to reframe the discourse of health and illness for vulnerable and underrepresented groups from one which is professionally dominated to one which holds the most meaning for the individuals concerned. This award is also a fabulous endorsement of the benefit arts-based healthcare research can have in giving voice to those who would otherwise remain silent in healthcare settings.”

Julie will be presented with her award at the 7th Sigma European biennial conference ‘Promoting Global Nursing: Education, Research and Practice to meet tomorrow’s health and care needs’ at Bournemouth University on 26-28 June.



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