The Role of Nursing in the Health of the Visually Impaired: A Focus on Communication Skills

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Lorita Marlena Freitag Pagliuca, PhD, RN
Nursing Department, Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil
Cristiana Brasil de Almeida Rebouças, PhD, RN
Nursing Department, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil

Learning Objective 1: intend that nurses face difficulties to perceive and use non-verbal signs consciously

Learning Objective 2: communicate is a basic instrument for nurses experiences

Purpose: Communication constitutes a basic instrument for social experience. Due to different reasons, subnormal vision or blindness itself can affect individuals. Thus, nursing communication with the visually impaired can be harmed. Because of their limitation, the blind’s perception differs from ours. This makes care delivery to the blind a challenge for nursing practice, but understanding them is fundamental to reestablish and maintain their global health. The goal was to observe non-verbal communication during nursing consultations with blind patients.

Methods: This exploratory and descriptive study was developed at the health communication laboratory of the Nursing Department at the Federal University of Ceará, Brazil, between October 2007 and June 2008. The sample consisted of 15 nurses and 15 blind patients. Data were collected through recordings during nursing consultations with the blind. The recordings were analyzed by three nurses from the graduate nursing program. The collected data were inserted in SPSS 14.0 and analyzed as absolute frequencies and percentages.

Results: As to distance, personal distance prevailed (69.6%). The seated position was maintained in 65.3%. What contact is concerned, no contact prevailed with 54.9%. Illustrative gestures like moving the eyes stood out with 42.4%. In the facial behavior category, attention/normal was observed in 43.3%. About eye opening, attention predominated with 93.3%. As to the direction of the look, deviated from the interlocutor stood out in 57.2%. In terms of voice volume, normal prevailed with 81.0%. Silence was observed in 14.7%. It is highlighted that the nurses face difficulties to perceive and use non-verbal signs consciously.

Conclusion: Limited information about communication was also identified, besides not mastering concepts, basing the interpersonal relation with the patient much more on the verbal than the non-verbal aspect. This makes it pertinent to propose these non-verbal communication teaching techniques to nurses.