The use of therapeutic untruths by learning disability nursing students

Mckenzie, Karen, Taylor, Suzanne, Murray, George and James, Ian (2020) The use of therapeutic untruths by learning disability nursing students. Nursing Ethics, 27 (8). pp. 1607-1617. ISSN 0969-7330

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The use of therapeutic untruths raises a number of ethical issues, which have begun to be explored to some extent, particularly in dementia care services, where their use has been found to be high. Little is known, however, about their use by health professionals working in learning disability services.

Research question:
The study aimed to explore the frequency of use of therapeutic untruths by student learning disability nurses, and by their colleagues; how effective the students perceived them to be as a means of responding to behaviours that challenge; and their level of comfort with using them.

Research design:
A correlational design was used to gather data from an online version of the Best Interest Scale, adapted for a learning disability context. Participants were 30 learning disability student nurses (female = 28, ages 18–48 years, M = 26.8, standard deviation = 7.3) studying at a university in the North-East of England.

Ethical considerations:
The study was reviewed and received ethical approval from the first author’s university ethics committee.

Overall, 96% of participants reported using therapeutic untruths. ‘Omission’ was the most frequently used type of therapeutic untruths, the most effective and the type that the students felt most comfortable using. Frequency of use of therapeutic untruths correlated significantly and positively with perceived effectiveness and the level of comfort that the students felt when using them, for all types of therapeutic untruths.

The use of therapeutic untruths by the student nurses was consistent with that found in research in dementia care services in the United Kingdom and abroad. Further research to explore the generalisability of the results to the wider context of learning disability services is needed. The study highlights that there may be a need for more formal guidance and educational input to student nurses in the use of therapeutic untruths with people with a learning disability.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ethics, learning disability, student nurses, therapeutic untruths
Subjects: B700 Nursing
C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Nursing, Midwifery and Health
Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2020 13:19
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 14:52

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