Touch in health professional practice: a review

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Clinical Teacher, 2019, 16 (6), pp. 559 - 564
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© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and The Association for the Study of Medical Education Background: The appropriate use of touch is central to effective and compassionate care in the clinical environment; however, in a time of the #MeToo movement, and with heightened awareness of child and elder abuse, the notion of physical contact is frequently viewed negatively, and may be associated with gender and power divides. The use of touch in the clinical context has increasing layers of complexity and is highly context specific. … in a time of the #MeToo movement … the notion of physical contact is frequently viewed negatively …. Methods: We reviewed relevant literature, including textbooks, and have drawn on our own experiences to explore the concept and use of touch across medicine, nursing and dentistry. Results: In the context of learning and teaching in health we recognised two types of physical touch: expressive and procedural. Discussion: Our review legitimises the importance of learners and educators being equipped to consider the role and nuances of touch when engaging in professional behaviour. We provide suggestions for how this complex concept may be embedded into entry-to-practice curricula and approached in faculty development.
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