The discourse surrounding disabilities in nursing education: an integrated literature review




Payrastre, Heather

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People with disabilities continue to suffer from health inequities and discrimination in North American society at large and even within the health care system (Scullion, 2010). It is widely believed that disability-related theory needs to be explored in undergraduate nursing education in order to disrupt the social inequities faced by people with disabilities (Goddard, Mackey & Davidson, 2010; Smeltzer, Dolen, Robinson-Smith & Zimmerman, 2005; Thompson, Emrich, & Moore, 2003). How are nurse scholars conceptualizing and theorizing disability in nursing education literature? The purpose of this integrated literature review is to draw on current nursing literature about disability education in order to critically examine the authors’ discourses, assumptions, and attitudes regarding disability that are embedded in nursing education literature. A discourse lens frames the analysis of relevant literature to examine how disability is conceptualized and portrayed. While authors of the articles reviewed held that disability-related education is important at the undergraduate level, their writings presented a range of conceptualizations and various theoretical approaches to disability. These findings are encouraging, but more emphasis on disability theory is needed to adopt a consistent approach to disability education that is grounded in our disciplinary values. The results of this critical review of the literature could be used in the development of disability-specific nursing competencies or an educational framework for North-American nursing curricula. Overall, in the articles reviewed, there is promising evidence of movement towards social awareness and the empowerment of people with disabilities as a priority in undergraduate nursing curricula.



disabilities, nursing education