Giving a voice to patient experiences through the insights of pragmatism

Kris Deering, Jo Williams, Kay Stayner, Chris Pawson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


As a philosophical position, pragmatism can be critiqued to distinguish truth only with methods that bring about desired results, predominantly with scientific enquiry. The article hopes to dismiss this oversimplification and propose that within mental health nursing, enquiry enlightened by pragmatism can be anchored to methods helping to tackle genuine human problems. Whilst pragmatists suggest one reality exists, fluctuating experiences and shifting beliefs about the world can inhabit within; hence, pragmatists propose reality has the potential to change. Moreover, pragmatism includes being cognisant of what works to whom reality concerns, making reality context-driven, with a view to understand how actions shape experiences so what is generated has usefulness. Hence, it somewhat follows pragmatism can inform mental health nursing, after all, nursing is a discipline of action, and awareness is needed in how actions produce experiences that patients find helpful. Given the principles of recovery are preferably adopted in mental health care, the paper will explore how pragmatism can help nurses move towards that goal; specifically, with patients voicing their experiences. This is because like pragmatism, recovery subscribes to hope that reality can progress, and through meaningful experiences and beliefs, patients have expertise about personal difficulties alongside how life may flourish, despite mental illness.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNursing Philosophy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


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