Misconceptions about traumatic brain injury among nursing students

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Although traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common and devastating condition, health care professionals are known to have misconceptions about the causes, symptoms, and outcomes related to this type of injury. Given the complex nature of TBI, it is critical that all members of a patient’s health care team have the correct information and adequate skills necessary to ensure the best outcomes in the recovery period. As a result, researchers are highly motivated to ascertain and address existing TBI misconceptions among health care professionals.

A team of researchers in India recently conducted a survey of TBI misconceptions among 154 nursing students. They administered the Common Misconceptions about Traumatic Brain Injury (CM-TBI) questionnaire, which categorizes possible misconceptions into seven categorical domains: Brain Damage, Injury Sequelae, Prevention, Unconsciousness, Amnesia, Recovery, and Rehabilitation. After analyzing the results of the survey, the researchers determined that:

  • The highest rates of TBI misconceptions were related to brain damage and injury sequelae. Nursing students were highly likely to hold misconceptions about problems with speech, coordination, and walking that may be caused by TBI.
  • The lowest rates of misconception were related to amnesia and recovery. Nursing students tend not to believe the common misconception that TBI patients are likely to lose all of their memories.
  • About 90 percent of nursing students reported believing that seatbelts do not help to prevent TBI.
  • Misconceptions about TBI among nursing students did not differ significantly by their age, gender, religion, or amount of education. Importantly, many of the nursing students had already completed their education related to trauma and emergency care, indicating that the nursing curriculum does not adequately address and disprove common misconceptions about TBI.

Misconceptions about TBI are widespread among medical professionals, which may impede their ability to provide the highest standard of care to patients with head injuries. The results of this study indicate that current nursing curricula in Indian nursing schools fail to adequately educate nursing students about TBI. There is an urgent need to revise nursing curricula to address common TBI misconceptions so that all health professionals are able to provide patients with high-quality, evidence-based care.

Gurusamy J, Gandhi S, Amudhan S, et al. Misconceptions about traumatic brain injury among nursing students in India: Implications for nursing care and curriculum. BMC Nursing. (December 2019.)

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