A Relational Approach to Adolescent Growth

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)



First Advisor

Glee Wahlquist, Ph.D., RN


The purpose of the study was to describe the use of a relational approach as it influences growth/change in the adolescent female. The subject selected for the study was a 14 year old inner-city adolescent of Hispanic/African-American origin referred to a family services agency having been identified as high risk for entry into the juvenile justice system. Her parents were deceased and she is under the legal custody of her maternal grandmother. The single case study method was selected for its usefulness in studying problems in depth and situation in context. Multiple sources of data were used with in depth descriptions of the subject and the setting to enhance credibility and to allow for replication. Data was interpreted using Belenky's (1986) Ways of Knowing, Jordan's (1991) Principles of Mutuality, and the concrete measures afforded by the case management model. Exemplars for Belenky's Way of Knowing were developed using a group consensus of four graduate students and two professors. The data supports the previous findings of Belenky that the categories for knowing are neither fixed nor exhaustive. The importance of a relational approach as a tool for motivating behavioral change is supported by the data. The study underscores the significance of conducting long-term studies to further clarify the voice of this group of adolescents and to more clearly identify effective interventions to break the cycle of poverty and crime. Nursing administrators must promote openness and flexibility within the discipline to assure the delivery of quality care that embraces both individual differences and diverse cultural patterns.


Master's Thesis submitted to the Faculty Sacred Heart University Nursing Program in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree Master of Science in Nursing Administration.