An investigation of the relationship of baccalaureate nursing students' personality and their perceived discomfort in touching patients



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The study investigated within a sample of 154 female baccalaureate nursing students, personality traits as measured by the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF, 1967-68) and discomfort felt in touching patients as measured by the Discomfort in Touching Questionnaire (DTQ). The DTQ was constructed and evaluated by the investigator prior to the study. A canonical correlation procedure was used to examine the relationship between the two domains. The results indicated that nursing students who felt that few situations involving touching the patient's lower torso would make them uncomfortable and who, although to a lesser degree, felt they could comfortably use touching with an affectionate or intimate connotation, were the nursing students who could be expected to be comfortable associating with people but not to become particularly involved with people (p.<.001). In a discriminant analysis procedure, four DTQ scales and one 16PF scale made significant contribution to the delineation between the clinical group of 98 nursing students with experience in touching patients and the sophomore group of 56 nursing students without such experience. The sophomore nursing students appeared to think they would be comfortable doing more kinds of touching which might express affection, empathy, sympathy, or intimacy, and appeared to consider themselves more capable of coping with their emotions. The clinical nursing students appeared to be comfortable in more situations involving touching the patient’s lower torso (p.<.001). The possibility of a difference in perception of the lower torso, between nursing students with experience in touching patients and nursing students without experience, should be investigated to determine if it exists; and if so, is it role behavior or personal behavior. It also was recommended that baccalaureate nursing education place more emphasis on the needs of the student, specifically the student's need to cope successfully with her emotions in situations involving touching patients.



Nursing students--Psychology, Touch