Nursing ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this research was to determine the subjective reactions of elderly hospitalized patients to the use and non-use of expressive touch by nurses. Expressive and instrumental touch and personal and non-personal talk were operationally defined.

The sample of 23 elderly patients consisted of 15 females and 8 males. The mean age of the sample was 76.4 years.

The unit of study was the patient's bath. A repeated measures quasi--experimental design was utilized. Each patient received both the control and experimental interaction. The control interaction involved the use of instrumental touch only and the experimental interaction both instrumental and expressive touch.

The subjective reactions of the patients and the nurses were obtained by open-ended questioning. A chosen set of descriptive variables were identified.

Research questions were formulated which concerned the patients noticing the use or non-use of expres­sive touch, the subjective reactions of the patients and the nurses and the effect to expressive touch on the ratio of personal/non-personal talk engaged in by the patient and the nurse.

The responses to the interviews were subjected to content analysis and coded by a panel of judges. Results were presented as frequencies of response patterns within each of the variables identified.

The major findings included none of the patients mentioning the use or non-use of expressive touch as the difference noticed between the two baths. The majority of the subjects mentioned an evaluation of the task function of the nurse as the type of difference noticed. The majority responded affirmatively to noticing the use or non-use of expressive touch when specifically asked. There were no negative responses to the use and only three to the non-use of expressive touch. The use or non-use of expressive touch exhibited no effect on the ratio of personal/non-personal talk. None of the nurses mentioned the touch when asked how they felt about participating in the study. The majority had no difficulty utilizing expres­sive touch.

Implications for clinical nursing practice and recommendations for further research were presented.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

College of Nursing

First Committee Member (Chair)

Judith Therese Maurin

Second Committee Member

Joann Reinhartsen Weiss

Third Committee Member

Peter Vincent DiVasto



Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons