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J Intellect Disabil. 2007 Jun;11(2):127-41.

Communication among nurses and adults with severe and profound intellectual disabilities: predicted and observed strategies.

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  • 1St Angela's College, Sligo, Ireland. dhealy@stacs.edu.ie


This study explored communication strategies adopted by staff nurses in a residential centre in Ireland for persons with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Interactions between staff nurses and service users were video recorded and analysed to determine the frequencies of verbal and non-verbal communication acts. Semi-structured and focus group interviews were carried out with the 10 participating staff nurses. Participants identified staff-related factors, the communicative environment, alternative methods of communication and choice as key elements in communicating with service users. No differences were observed in the frequency of verbal and non-verbal communicative acts. There was a discrepancy between what communicative acts the participants named as their preferred strategies and those observed when they interacted with service users. Most failed to adjust their language to meet service users' needs. The findings suggest that staff nurses do not always adopt optimal strategies in everyday interactions with individuals who use non-verbal communication. Continuing education in communication is recommended.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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