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History of Nursing & Health Research Programme

Leader:  Associate Professor Pamela Wood

This Research Programme provides a platform for investigating the history of nursing and health. Where possible, we use a regional lens to examine national and international aspects of nursing and health history. There are currently 12 contributing researchers to this programme and the Research Programme Director is Associate Professor Pamela Wood

Telling the story of nursing’s past and the history of health beliefs and practices

Using historical imagination in addressing healthcare and health professional issues today


Current Projects

World War One  

  • “The embodied experience of wartime nursing”
  • “Inscribing war – bodies, land, lives and letters”
  • “Recovery: Women’s overseas service in WWI”
  • “Suffering war – nurses’ health”

Professional sisters – nurses, teachers and their sisters

History of nursing at EIT

Cultural safety – interpretation over time

Hospital troubles’ – ethics, quality and safety


Programme Aims

  • To undertake robust research in the history of nursing and health, in regional, New Zealand and international contexts
  • To promote interdisciplinary and external research collaborations
  • To lead, support and build capacity and capability in historical research
  • To undertake community engagement related to the history of nursing and health



Research Focus Areas

Expanding practice beyond the hospitals

  • rural backblocks
  • urban slums
  • war

Professional issues

  • education
  • spheres of practice

Health beliefs and practices

  • health information at home – domestic health guides

Historical imagination

  • historical perspectives in health professional education and development



Postgraduate Research

We offer the following postgraduate research projects:

Rural health

“Limitless duty – the working day of the backblocks nurse”
“Portraying the health of regions in Medical Officer of Health reports”
“Newspaper portrayals of regional health”

For ideas in this field, see for example:

Wood, P.J. (2009). The nurse’s odyssey: The professional folktale in New Zealand backblocks nurses’ stories, 1910-1915. Nursing Inquiry, 16(2), 111-121.
Dow, D. (1995). Safeguarding the public health: A history of the New Zealand Health Department. Wellington: Victoria University Press.
Lange, R. (1999). May the people live: A history of Maori health development, 1900-1920. Auckland: Auckland University Press.

Wartime nursing

“War from afar – holding on to ‘home’ in New Zealand WWI nurses’ letters”
“Advancing practice at war”

For ideas in this field, see for example:

Hallett, C. (2014). Veiled warriors: Allied nurses of the First World War. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hallett, C. (2007) The personal writings of First World War nurses: A study of the interplay of authorial intention and scholarly interpretation. Nursing Inquiry, 14(4), 320-329.
Wood, P.J., & Knight, S. (2015). The taste of war: The meaning of food to New Zealand and Australian nurses far from home in World War One, 1915-18. In G. Fealy, C. Hallett, & S. Dietz (eds.). Histories of nursing practice (pp.35-51). Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Professional education

Vision, the EIT School of Nursing journal”

For ideas in this field, see for example:

Wood, P.J. (2011). Nursing the patient, the room and the doctor: Assessing New Zealand nurses’ practical capability, 1900-1945. Nurse Education Today, 31(2), 140-144.

 Health beliefs and practices

“Domestic health guides and X” – examining information to household carers on any selected topic of interest, e.g. infant feeding, typhoid fever, dropsy
“Staying healthy – information in domestic health guides”
“The Radio Doctor’s advice to the nation”

For ideas in this field, see for example:

Wood, P.J., & Jones, J. (2015). Health guides for unattended births and aftercare in New Zealand and Australia, 1900-1950. New Zealand College of Midwives Journal, 51, 44-49.
Wood, P.J. (2013). The blurred boundary between professional and lay home nursing knowledge and practice in New Zealand, 1900-1935. Home Healthcare Nurse, 31(2), E1-E7.

 Historical imagination

“Embedding history in nursing education programmes”

For ideas in this field, see for example:

Wood, P.J. (2014). Historical imagination, narrative learning and nursing practice: Graduate nursing students’ reader-responses to a nurse’s storytelling form the past. Nurse Education in Practice, 14(5), 473-478.
Wood, P.J.(2010). Historical imagination and issues in rural and remote area nursing. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27(4), 54-61.

We welcome other ideas for postgraduate research that address our research focus areas.