Practising on plastic people: can I really care?

Sue Dean, Claire Williams, Mark Balnaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purposes: This study evaluated the experiences of undergraduate student nurses with highfidelity Human Patient Simulation Mannequins (HPSMs) and their perceptions of empathy. Methods: An exploratory case-study method was used to investigate the literature on empathy and the use of high-fidelity mannequins in nurse education. Two focus groups were conducted with eight third-year undergraduate nursing students in order to elicit responses to their experiences with HPSMs in their learning, especially in relation to empathy. Findings: Undergraduate nurses found it challenging when using HPSMs in the learning environment to relate to the mannequins as real. Students reported that in their experience, the use of mannequins was not conducive currently to the development of skills necessary for positive interpersonal development of the nurse–patient relationship. Conclusions: Focus group data and the empirical literature suggest that more research needs to be conducted into the use of mannequins in the development of nurse–patient interpersonal skills. Educators need to make evidence-based and pedagogically sound decisions about the use and limitations of HPSMs in undergraduate nursing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-271
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Nurse
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Empathy
  • Mannequins
  • Nurse–patient relations
  • Nursing education

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