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Intensive Care Nurs. 1991 Dec;7(4):236-9.

Application of Jean Piaget's theory of human development for nursing children in an adult intensive therapy unit.


Piaget (1964) believed that interaction with the environment has a large part to play in human development. Matthew (1986) states that in an ideal world critically ill children should be cared for by staff trained in paediatrics, within designated paediatric intensive therapy units. Unfortunately, there are only 28 paediatric intensive therapy units in Great Britain (CMA Medical Data, 1987), consequently each year a third of children requiring intensive care are admitted to adult intensive therapy units (ITU). A knowledge and understanding of developmental psychology can therefore be beneficial to nurses in assessing which stage of development a child has reached, in order to plan the correct level of stimulation, and hence facilitate progress rather than regression in the accomplishment of developmental tasks. The psychological and social processes involved in Jean Piaget's (1896-1980) theory of human development are discussed with regard to nursing children requiring intubation and ventilation in an adult ITU.

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