New study sheds light on changing faces of nurses in films over last 100 years

October 9th, 2008 - 5:49 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Oct 9 (ANI): An extensive study highlighting the changing face of nurses in films over the last 100 years has revealed that unflattering stereotypes are becoming less common.
And nurses are now being portrayed in a more positive light.
Australian nurse researcher Dr David Stanley reviewed more than 36,000 film synopses and watched 280 films made between 1900 and 2007 for his research.
The study has been published in the latest issue of the UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.
“Public perceptions of different professions are strongly influenced by the media and in the past the way that nurses have been represented in feature films has often been at odds with the way nurses perceive their profession,” says Dr Stanley, a lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Curtin University of Technology, Perth.
“Nurses need to be aware of how they are portrayed in films and to work positively and proactively with the media to create a realistic and accurate image of themselves and their profession,” the expert added.
Stanley says his research has revealed significant changes in the way nurses have been portrayed in films over the last century.
“In early films, nurses were seen predominantly as heroines, romantic leads, sex objects or self-sacrificial carers, with the First World War featuring in many storylines.
“More recently there is evidence of film makers moving away from the stereotypical themes of the past.
“Nurses today are represented as much more than angels and devils, doormats and divas, as films start to recognise that nursing provides fertile ground for a wide range of plot devices.
“Now they are often portrayed as intelligent, strong and passionate characters and film makers are increasingly turning to nursing characters who offer a broader, deeper and authentic representation of modern nurses and nursing,” the expert said.
More than 800 films were identified from 36,000 synopses and 280 English language or subtitled films were studied in detail, as nurses formed an integral part of the plot. The majority of the films came from the USA (64 per cent) and the UK (12 per cent). Other countries included were Australia, France, Mexico, Spain and Germany.
The number of films reviewed ranged from nine in 1920-29 and 17 in 1900-1919 to 41 in 2000-2007 and 33 in 1980-1989.
“Just over a quarter of the films I looked at (26 per cent) featured an overtly sexual representation of nurses, an image that has negative implications for nursing professionals” says Dr Stanley.
Today’’s film nurse is very different from the nurses seen in early black and white silent movies.
“The dawn of the 21st century sees the trend for films with strong, professional assertive self-confident nurses continuing and growing,” he says.
“Feature films offer only a brief insight into how the image of nurses and nursing has been portrayed” concludes Dr Stanley. (ANI)

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