Literature review of feminist nursing knowledge of biology, anatomy, and physiology




Converse, Mary

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Using an integrative methodology, this literature review examined critical feminist nursing knowledge around the concepts of biology, anatomy, and physiology in nursing literature in the Cumulative Literature Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINHAL) and Google Scholar databases from approximately 1966 – 2010. The researcher found no literature in these databases that directly addressed the concepts from a critical feminist perspective. A number of articles and a few research reports did engage with these concepts indirectly through the concept of ‘the body’ and through specific disease processes such as breast cancer, menopause, and heart disease. After analyzing for how the key concepts were discussed, it was found that in the literature, biology caused disease and the body experienced it. Themes of ‘Dichotomies’, ‘Moving toward and Away From’, and ‘Assumptions of Nursing Epistemology’ are discussed. The literature is replete with dichotomies perhaps as a result of using a feminist perspective. Also perhaps due to the feminist perspective, there is a movement toward the social body and away from the biological body. Implicit in the literature was the understanding that biomedical and medical knowledge is translated into nursing knowledge in practice. Further research is suggested to undergo a critical feminist critique for gender, class, and race bias in knowledge presented in nurse education on the topics of biology, anatomy, and physiology.



literature review, feminism, nursing knowledge, biology, anatomy, physiology