hoffling et al 1966

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  • Hoffling et al (1966)
    • aim - to investigate what happens when a nurse is ordered to carry out a procedure that goes against her professional standards
    • procedure
      • 3 hospitals in Midwest of USA, one used as control. 12 graduate nurses and 21 student nurses were asked to fill out a questionnaire about what they would do if confronted by the experimental situation
      • 22 nurses from other 2 hospitals doing normal duties targeted for actual field experiment. 1) The nurse was asked to give an overdose of a drug to a patient (actually a placebo)      2) The medication order is given over the phone by dr (hospital policy requires such orders are given in person)
        • 3) the drug is unauthorised for use on the ward where she is working      4)   The drug order is given by an unfamiliar voice
    • results
      • questionnaire - 10/12 graduate nurses, and all 21 students said they would not have given the medication. most believed others would say the same.
      • Experimental situation - 21/22 nurses began to give the medication, little resistance from nurses. in debriefing only 11 nurses were aware of dosage limits for astroten, nearly all admitted they knew that that taking these orders was against hospital policy.
    • Conclusion
      • Nurses will knowingly break hospital policy even where a doctor tells them to, even if it could endanger a patients life.
    • Evaluation
      • Validity - supposed to be measuring obedience to authority but 10/22 said they didn't realise dosage limits
      • eco val. - all nurses in a natural environment to them carrying out regular tasks but would usually be more than just them on the wards (other nurses and a doctor)
      • ethics - informed consent was not gained (field experiment), deceived because not real situation, only had opportunity to withdraw after experiment.
      • backed up by other studies eg. milgram etc.
      • backs agency theory
  • 3) the drug is unauthorised for use on the ward where she is working      4)   The drug order is given by an unfamiliar voice

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