“It’s not about Food!”: Peer Facilitation for Eating Issues

By Kathryn Weaver and Kathleen M. Pye.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It is common for Nursing students to participate in community prevention and support groups to supplement the clinical skills and knowledge acquired within traditional practice placements. Through such learning experiences, nurses are prepared to meet the changing demands of working with populations outside hospital settings and providing public service to underserved populations. Accordingly, a collaborative interdisciplinary research-based initiative, “It’s Not about Food” (INAF), was established to give students the necessary training to address eating disorders and associated issues of low self-esteem, distorted body image, nutritional knowledge deficit, self neglect and impulsivity. The nursing students – mentored by the related professional disciplines of nursing, medicine, and psychology – provided peer counselling to university and middle school students. This involved formal presentations, small group discussions characterized by active listening and respective dialogue, and environments conducive to exploration and deeper understanding of eating disorders as complex social concerns. Although current evidence suggests that peers can be successful in reaching target populations, little research has assessed the perspective of the peer facilitator. Therefore, a goal of this Harrison-McCain funded project was to examine resultant changes in the nursing students and identify specific activities that stimulated transformational learning and commitment to civic responsibilities. In this presentation, we will share our analysis of transcripts from focus group and individual qualitative interviews with upper level baccalaureate students and their mentors. The findings reveal outcomes of transformed perspectives in “being on the other side,” enhanced personal and professional development, inter-professional collaboration, advocacy and activism. These results have program, practice, and research implications for health and university professionals and administrators. The positive benefits related to participation in the INAF project can support peer-facilitated pedagogy and further the recruitment and retention of students.

Keywords: Peer Facilitation, Transformative Learning, Eating Disorders, Qualitative Thematic Analysis, Feminist World View

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.389-406. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 705.878KB).

Dr. Kathryn Weaver

Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Dr. Kathryn (Kate) Weaver completed her PhD (Nursing) at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and postdoctoral fellowships at the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology and Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta. She is a Harrison-McCain Foundation Young Scholar, Associate Professor with the Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick, and Nurse Psychotherapist with an independent clinical practice counselling women and adolescents suffering from eating disorders. Her teaching interests include qualitative research, psychiatric-mental health nursing, community development, and nursing ethics. Her program of research involves qualitative and mixed methods inquiry into individual and family perspectives of eating disorders and ethical sensitivity in professional-client relationships.

Kathleen M. Pye

MEd, PhD Student, University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Canada

Ms. Kathleen Pye holds a BScKIN and MEd (Counselling Psychology) from the University of New Brunswick and an MSc from McGill University, Canada. Throughout her graduate studies, she gained practical experience engaging in psychotherapeutic relationships with individuals struggling with various eating concerns and related issues. Currently a doctoral student (Interdisciplinary Studies) under the supervision of Dr. Weaver at the University of New Brunswick, Ms. Pye continues to examine the constructs of disordered eating, in addition to various reproductive issues utilizing feminist frameworks and mixed methodologies.


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