Article critique – mental health nursing

Gleeson, M. & Higgins, A. (2009). Touch in mental health nursing: An exploratory study of nurses’ views and perceptions. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 16(4), 382-389. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2850.2009.01389.x.

literature critique

Gleeson and Higgins (2009) set out to assess the perceptions of use of physical touch as a therapeutic approach in mental health clients by exploring psychiatric nurses’ views. The study first introduces physical touch to be an integral part of non-verbal communication that is advanced to be a core aspect of therapeutic communication. The study then presents the inadequate research on the aspect of touch in a psychiatric context and associates it with inherent perceptions of such to constitute a taboo; thus the motivation behind the study.

In the literature review, the study presents a logical sequence of events from those that identify the therapeutic effect of touch to those studying use of touch in a psychiatric environment. The study then presents a research design where the setting, methods and sampling types used are well explained. Through discussions in line with the identified themes and supported by references to previous studies the study links the findings to the conclusions made with limitations such as the small number and wide experience (10-20 years) of nurses used being pointed out.

Various ethical issues could have arisen when the researchers were conducting the study. First among these would relate to the confidentiality issues such as disclosure of personal information and record keeping. The authors note that anonymity and confidentiality was ensured partly through allowing participants to choose the time and location where they wished to be interviewed with tape recordings being allocated code numbers instead of names of respondents to enhance anonymity (Gleeson & Higgins, 2009).

A second ethical issue of concern to the study is getting informed consent from the study participants. Such for instance necessitated the authors to send a consent form and an information leaflet that the participants were supposed to read and clarify any aspects with the researcher before the signed form was returned with a time allowance of three weeks to ensure adequate time frame was allowed for adequate comprehension of various study aspects (Gleeson & Higgins, 2009). A third ethical aspect would relate to access to the participants which was noted to have been provided through the Director of Nursing (Gleeson & Higgins, 2009). The study’s ethical approval was also obtained from other appropriate sources such as the ethical committee (Gleeson & Higgins, 2009).

The study uses a non-experimental design – no control group or multiple measures (Trochim, 2006), with a qualitative exploration of nurse perceptions’ being undertaken. Rather than using an observatory approach where the researcher would observe the practice and report the findings, the study evaluates perceptions from nurses’ accounts of their experiences with use of therapeutic touch in psychiatric settings. Since the study’s main aim was evaluate the perceptions of using therapeutic touch rather than the practice, the study could only be varied with the data collection approach where structured questionnaires could be used to evaluate these perceptions.

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