A hermeneutic phenomenological study exploring the experience health practitioners have when working with families to safeguard children and the invisibility of the emotions work involved

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of the West of Scotland
  • School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh


Aim and objective

To explore the emotions work undertaken by practitioners with responsibility for the safeguarding of child wellbeing and establish whether there is a relationship between emotion work, role visibility, professional wellbeing and effectiveness of supportive frameworks.


Protecting children is the responsibility of everyone in society with health, social care and public health services leading this worldwide. To safeguard children effectively it is known that practitioners build relationships with families in sometimes challenging situations which involve the management of emotions. However irrespective of this current knowledge; health practitioners who work in this area suggest that their child safeguarding role is not recognised, respected or valued in professional and societal settings. The purpose of this paper is to report on a qualitative study which set out to explore the relationship between the known relational based emotions work of practitioners’ and the reported lack of visibility.


Hermeneutic phenomenology underpinned the study. Semi-structured interviews were employed for data collection. Ten participants actively working with pre-school children and families in health care organisations.were recruited.


The emotional, relationship and communicative based work crucial to effectively safeguard children may influence the visibility of the role. Poor role visibility influences the morale of practitioners and the support they receive.


In conclusion this study proposes that when there is poor role recognition; there is ineffective clinical support. This reduces professional wellbeing which in turn will impact practitioner abilities to safeguard children.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Early online date3 Aug 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2016


  • health visitor , health visiting , emotional labour , emotion work , professional resilience , stress , child protection , safeguarding