Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Lisa M. Haddad

Committee Members

Jean Croce Hemphill, Patricia Harnois-Church, Kate Beatty


Tennesseans have been experiencing increasing rates of sexually transmitted diseases since the year 2000. Those rates are highest among those 15- to 24-year-olds. At the same time, Tennessee policy requires the teaching of abstinence as the primary form of sexual health education and emphasized the use of abstinence-only curriculum. The school nurse represents an available resource in the Tennessee public schools. The purpose of the qualitative study was to explore, describe, and interpret the perceptions and experiences of public-school nurses from rural, suburban, and urban areas of Tennessee related to the sexual health and sexual health education of students. School nurses were recruited from across the state and from a variety of communities to complete an electronic survey and to participate in individual interviews. Critical Discourse Analysis was used to analyze results in the context of the existing sociocultural and power structures. The research plan included a comparison of results from participants in rural, suburban, and urban areas that could not be done because of the limited responses obtained from potential participants. Emerging themes in light of the limited participant responses created a view of power structures within the context of existing conditions that may be impacting the sexual health of students.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.