Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-16-1960


This study was a survey of public health nurses opinions concerning selected factors involved in counseling parents of mentally subnormal children. The purposes were to: (l) obtain the public health nurses' opinions regarding some of the needs and problems of families with mentally subnormal children; (2) identify the areas in which the nurses most frequently counseled the parents; (3) learn what situations were encountered during home visits which the nurse identified as being perplexing or difficult to handle; and (4) ascertain if there was a need, as expressed by the nurses, for more intensive education and counseling for public health nurses about mental subnormality. The data were obtained during interviews with thirteen staff public health nurses from one public health agency. Five free response questions were used to elicit the necessary information. Analysis of the data revealed that the nurses generally identified the same needs and problems as existing in these families as were identified in the literature. The counseling they most frequently gave was support and reassurance, referral to other community agencies, and guidance in the care and training of the handicapped child. They found it difficult to work with the parents’ feelings and attitudes toward the child and to accept the parents' failure to carry out plans made for the child. The majority of the nurses expressed a need for more information and counseling in this field, particularly focusing on understanding and working with the parents' feelings and attitudes; the nurse's role in counseling the parents; and the principles involved in the home training of the subnormal child.