University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

How Public Health Nurses' Deal with Sexting Among Young People: a Qualitative Inquiry Using the Critical Incident Technique

Clark, M., Lewis, Alison ORCID:, Bradshaw, S. and Bradbury-Jones, C. (2018) How Public Health Nurses' Deal with Sexting Among Young People: a Qualitative Inquiry Using the Critical Incident Technique. BMC Public Health, 18 (1). p. 729. ISSN 1471-2458

[img] Text
s12889-018-5642-z - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (639kB)


Globally, the potentially harmful effects of using cell phone technology for 'sexting' among young people, is a public health concern. The background literature indicates that sexting might have adverse psychosocial consequences for some young people who share partially nude images ('selfies'). Public health nurses (PHNs) could offer guidance to children and young people on digital safety, yet little is known about their role in this regard. This study explored PHNs' knowledge and confidence in addressing the issue among young people. A qualitative study was undertaken using the Critical Incident Technique. The study took place in 2016. Eighteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with PHNs in a region of England. Data were analysed through thematic analysis, and managed through the use of NViVo 11 software. From the entire data set, thirteen critical incidents were identified of which nine were deemed relevant for reporting in this paper. PHNs regarded sexting as a contemporary 'normalised' practice that takes place in what young people consider to be trusting relationships. PHNs' knowledge was informed by media reports that supported their beliefs about young peoples' vulnerability to risk-taking sexual behaviour. They were not confident about discussing sexting with young people, even though some PHNs had done so in light of concerns about potential child sexual exploitation. PHNs have a role to play in advising young people on digital safety, but findings of the study show that their role is not fully realised. They have some knowledge of sexting as a possible signifier of abusive behaviour. However, they are not always confident in dealing with the issue. Improving PHNs ability to promote digital safety through better understanding of technology use among young people is good safeguarding practice. This may, in turn, better define this important nursing contribution to public health.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

The full-text can be accessed via the Official URL.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: child sexual exploitation, digital safety, health visitors, public health nursing, risk, school nurses, sexting, technology, vulnerability, young people
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Related URLs:
Copyright Info: Open Access
SWORD Depositor: Prof. Pub Router
Depositing User: Alison Lewis
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2018 10:23
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2020 10:47

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Worcester Research and Publications is powered by EPrints 3 which is developed by the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. More information and software credits.