Alison Menzies, a School Nurse and Specialist Community Public Health Nurse in Bath, has been awarded a scholarship from the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF), sponsored by NHS Professionals, to undertake her research project: ‘Can an image dominant contraception information app educate, enable and empower young offenders to make an informed choice to consent to treatment?’
We have spoken to her to find out a bit more about her project.
How did you find out about the Florence Nightingale Foundation research scholarships?
I first heard about the Florence Nightingale Foundation through the University of the West of England. I had just completed my Specialist Community Public Health course and was looking to complete a master’s degree. A tutor pointed me in the direction of the scholarships as she had known other students who had been successful in receiving them. I then visited the website to find out more.
Why did you chose to conduct your research on this topic?
During my first year after qualifying as a School Nurse, I was seconded to work within the youth offending team in Bath. Part of the role was to prescribe contraception and sexual health advice to young offenders. I came across a 15 year old who required a consultation to enable her to choose a method of contraception that was right for her. It became clear that she struggled to understand the complexities of the information and all I had to help explain what I was saying were text-heavy information leaflets that didn’t suit her needs. Studies of speech and language skills in young offenders have reported that 60-90% of young offenders have a language difficulty, with many having a reading age of 10 which is below the criminal age of responsibility. This makes understanding and processing language difficult.
What are the aims of your research?
The aim of the research is to design an image-dominant contraception information app that will address the communication needs of young offenders, increasing their knowledge and understanding of contraception.
How do you plan to carry out your research?
The method will follow an action research model and be part of the evidencing work based learning module. Action research is a method of gathering information in a systematic way that will lead to improvements in practice and the working environment. The strength of action research lies within its ability to empower practitioners to research solutions to practical problems.
I identified a need within my service, which I felt was a practical problem. Young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) needed a way of understanding contraception information to enabling them to consent to treatment.
Action research involves a process of planning, acting, observing and reflecting. At present, I am at the planning stage. This involves completing a literature review on SLCN in young offenders, creating a steering group involving young people, speech and language therapists and securing funding for development of the app.
What do you hope to achieve?
I am hoping to complete a critical literature review to allow me to undertake a needs assessment to demonstrate why the app is required. I then hope to involve service users in a steering group to design the app. This is an exciting piece of research that will work towards delivering information about contraception to this technologically aware client group and will hopefully contribute to the Government’s plan to reduce teenage pregnancy.
We will be following Alison’s research progress over the next year and look forward to seeing the results.