Using Popular Nursing Literature Critique to Help Nursing Students Explore Their Perceptions of Disability

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Charles Anyinam
Sue Coffey


Objectives: Disabled people have a history of disadvantage, discrimination, and disempowerment that continues to present day. Despite strong critique and activism by disabled people, popular understandings of disability as necessarily tragic, medically based, and individualistic requiring ‘fixing’ persist among health professionals.  Recent research demonstrates that health professional students often harbour negative attitudes that may directly affect their relationships with and care provided to disabled clients (Sabin & Akyol, 2010; Scullion, 1999). Further, personal accounts and research evidence suggests that the relationship between healthcare providers and disabled people is often unsatisfactory (Sabin & Akyol, 2010; Seccombe, 2007; Scullion, 1999).

Methods: Nursing education has a responsibility to ensure that nursing practice with disabled people is enabling rather than disabling (Scullion, 1999a, 1999b, 2000; Sabin & Akyol, 2010). A key strategy is to imbed within curricula opportunities for students to engage in the processes of critical thinking towards and analysis of disability and the experiences of disabled people. This poster describes an approach to teaching-learning in which critique of ‘popular culture’ nursing literature is used to support student exploration of messaging about disability.

Results and Conclusions: The purpose and description of the assignment, authors’ experiences, and outcomes for both teachers and learners will be presented. Application beyond nursing to other health professions will be described.


Sabin, H. & Akyol, A. D. (2010). Evaluation of nursing and medical students' attitudes towards people with disabilities. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19, 2271­2279.

Scullion, P. A. (1999). Conceptualizing disability in nursing: Some evidence from students and their teachers. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 29, 648­657.

Scullion, P. A. (2000). Enabling disabled people: Responsibilities of nursing education. British Journal of Nursing, 9(15), 1010-1015.

Seccombe, J. A. (2007). Attitudes towards disability in an undergraduate nursing curriculum: A literature review. Nurse Education Today, 27, 459­465.

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How to Cite
Anyinam, C., & Coffey, S. (2014). Using Popular Nursing Literature Critique to Help Nursing Students Explore Their Perceptions of Disability. The International Journal of Whole Person Care, 1(1).
Congress 2013