Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Psychology


A model for exploring the process of transition during life event changes has been proposed, using personal construct theory (Kelly, 1955) as a theoretical base and conceptual framework. The study involved an exploration of the lives of women during their transition to becoming a nurse. One hundred and forty-four women participated in the study. In developmental terms, seventy-two were at the stage of late adolescence (17 to 20 years) and seventy-two were adults (22 to 48 years). Due to differences in the nature of the two nursing courses from which the participants were drawn, they had different professional roles; seventy-two were hospital employees and the remaining seventy-two were university students. Intra and interpersonal accounts of the women's experience during the transition event were obtained by five interviews spread over the three year course. Content analysis of their verbalisations was performed and scored for both positive and negative affect, indicative of construct change during a transition experience. Higher than normal levels of construct invalidation, in the form of anxiety and depression, were noted for all participants. Significant differences according to developmental stage and professional role were also noted thus supporting the predicted hypotheses. Older women and nurse trainees who were hospital employees experienced significantly higher levels of construct invalidation than younger women and university students. Support for the revised model of transition was provided, also validation for both a personal construct theory approach and the methodology adopted. The implications of the results for an understanding of the process of transition in life event change have been discussed, also opportunities for necessary interventions. The attention of nursing academics, and others associated with vocational courses which are potentially stressful in nature, is directed to the influence of developmental stage, professional role and gender on the process of transition together with the implications for further research.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.