Research Alert

One intervention that may affect the psychological well-being of patients who have suffered a visible body disfigurement due to surgery or trauma is supported mirror viewing. Although this is a first step in helping patients accept a new image, nurses are hesitant to offer a mirror to a patient who has such a disfigurement. Typically, the reason for not doing so is the nurse didn't want to 'upset' the patient. There is little mirror education worldwide, leaving nurses to their own mirror experiences and best-guess guidelines. This study involved nurses in two hospitals that underwent 'mirror education', consisting of a video, a PowerPoint lecture and discussion. The aim of the intervention was to increase nurses' self-confidence in offering mirror viewing to patients. The results of the study demonstrated that an educational intervention increased nurses' confidence to offer mirror viewing to their patients.

Abstract

Purpose 

The aim of our study was to test an educational intervention to improve nurses’ confidence in supporting and frequency of offering a mirror to patients who have recently suffered visible body disfigurement.

Design/Methods 

Forty-eight registered nurses who worked in two acute care hospitals took part in a mixed-method one-group repeated-measures (pretest and posttest) research study. The educational intervention included a video, a presentation, and a recorded discussion.

Results 

Study participants experienced a significant increase in confidence in supporting and frequency of offering mirrors to patients. An overarching theme from the qualitative analysis was that the nurse participants perceived assisting patients in viewing their changed bodies in mirrors as “an act of compassion.” Four subthemes emerged: (a) seeing mirrors differently, (b) there is only one first time, (c) how can we do this better, and (d) “me too” stories of their own and patients’ difficult mirror-viewing experiences.

Conclusion 

Education enhances nurses’ frequency of offering mirrors and supporting patients in mirror viewing after visible disfigurement because of trauma or surgery.

Clinical Relevance 

Education provides nurses with the necessary skills to assist patients in adapting to an altered body image.

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