Nurses Practice Beyond Simple Advocacy to Engage in Relational Narratives: Expanding Opportunities for Persons to Influence the Public Space

N. Murphy*, 1, C. Aquino-Russell2
1 Dalhousie University School of Nursing, 5869 University Avenue, Halifax Nova Scotia, B3H 4P5, Canada
2 University of New Brunswick School of Nursing, Moncton Campus, Moncton, New Brunswick, E1C 4B7, Canada

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© Murphy and Aquino-Russell; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Dalhousie University School of Nursing, 5869 University Avenue, Halifax Nova Scotia, B3H 4P5, Canada; Tel: 902-494-2223; Fax: 902-494-3487; E-mail:


In practicing existential and human advocacy, or engaging in a relational narrative, nurses may assist persons who experience health inequalities to clarify their values, and, in becoming more fully their authentic selves, community members who ordinarily feel powerless in the public space may act with confidence in influencing the distribution of health-care resources. In this paper, the writers describe research characterizing nurses’ advocacy practices and review the concepts of respect and self-interpretation as a foundation for arguing that nurses who engage in relational narratives with the persons they serve may encourage continuing acts of self-understanding. Investigators indicated that nurses characterized their practices as a therapeutic endeavor, and that their practices were grounded in respect. Practicing nurses may need self-awareness to habitually convey respect for human dignity, in addition, nurse educators ought to attend to the professional development of student nurses, providing opportunities for the formation of character traits or qualities.

Keywords: Health inequalities, existential advocacy, relational narrative, respect, discernment of values, character formation.