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Researcher and expert on grounded theory
Helen Heath, who has died aged 67 from a cerebral haemorrhage, was a pivotal figure in nursing research.
She taught at Homerton College Cambridge school of health studies, now part of Anglia Ruskin University, and was an expert on grounded theory.
Mainly used in qualitative research, grounded theory is a systematic methodology involving the generation of theory from data. Dr Heath's advice to nurse researchers was always: 'The aim is not to discover the theory, but a theory that aids understanding and action in the area under investigation.'
She authored a classic paper with her supervisor Sarah Cowley, professor of health policy management at King's College London. Published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies in 2004, 'Developing a grounded theory approach: a comparison of Glaser and Strauss' has, according to Google scholar, had a remarkable 126 citations.
Dr Heath was awarded her doctorate in 2005 for her thesis on a grounded theory study of transition to the role of staff nurse.
She was at the forefront of intensive care nursing of children and babies. At 24, she was sister in the intensive care unit at Birmingham Children's Hospital, later moving to St James's Hospital in Leeds as sister of the children's heart unit.
As her interest in research grew she lectured in Australia and Canada, and presented at international conferences. She was a nurse tutor in Cambridge and Peterborough, and taught until her retirement in 2009.
She also studied with the University of the Third Age, enjoyed the ballet and theatre, and was a much loved sister, aunt and great-aunt.
obituary : january 4 :: vol 26 no 18 :: 2011