Method The procedure involved a naturalistic field experiment involving 22 real night nurses. Smith a stooge phones the nurses at hospital on 22 separate occasions and asks them to check to see if they have the drug astroten. When the nurse checks she can see that the maximum dosage is supposed to be 10mg. Smith was in a desperate hurry and he would sign the authorization form when he came to see Mr.
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Statistical Tests Hofling Aim: To see whether nurses would follow orders given by an authority figure doctor when the orders are given over the phone and would be breaking regulations. To study obedience in a real life setting Procedure: Involved both public and private hospital wards. In Hospital 1: 21 student nurses and 12 graduate nurses were asked to complete a questionnaire asking them what they would do if confronted by the experimental situation.
This was a control group to make comparisons. In the other hospitals 22 nurses took part in the field experiment which was covert nurses did not know they were in a study.
While alone on the night shift 7pm — 9pm the nurses received a phone call from a unknown doctor asking them to administer a drug to a patient - astroten. The amount of drug nurses were asked to give would have been an overdose it was a placebo as they were asked to give 20mg, the box was labelled maximum daily dose 10mg.
The drug was also not authorised for the ward the nurses were working on and nurses should not carry out orders given over the phone. The phone called ended when the nurse complied; the nurse refused; the nurse referred them to someone else; if they became upset; if they could not find the medication or if the call lasted longer than 10 mins. An observer on the ward stopped the study when the nurse got the medication and was approaching the patient; the nurse began to contact another professional or it had been over 10 mins since the call.
Findings: The control group: 10 of the graduate and all of the student nurses given the questionnaire said they would NOT give the drug; yet in the experimental group 21 out of 22 nurses started to give the medication, they did not give much resistance and admitted they knew they should not have carried out the orders Conclusion: Nurses will knowingly break hospital rules in a situation where a doctor tells them to, even if it could endanger a patients life.
A control group was also used which allowed comparisons to be made. Nurses were unaware of an experiment so there were no demand characteristics as they were going about their everyday job, acting as they would normally. Ethics: It was conducted covertly, so no informed consent was given by the nurses.
Some were left distressed by the study so lacked protection from harm. However nurses were given a full debrief, results are confidential, and the study would not have worked if nurses had been aware of the study and the drug being a placebo.
Hofling hospital experiment explained
A bottle labelled "Astroten" had been placed in the drug cabinet, but there was no drug of that name on the approved list. The label clearly stated that 10 mg was the maximum daily dose. Hofling then selected 22 nurses at a hospital in the United States for the actual experiment. They were each telephoned by an experimenter who identified himself as Dr. Smith, who asked them to administer the drug and said that he would write up the paperwork as soon as he got to the hospital.
The Hofling Nurse Study
Hofling hospital experiment explained In , the psychiatrist Charles K. Hofling conducted a field experiment on obedience in the nurse-physician relationship. In spite of official guidelines forbidding administration in such circumstances, Hofling found that 21 out of the 22 nurses would have given the patient an overdose of medicine. A bottle labelled "Astroten" had been placed in the drug cabinet, but there was no drug of that name on the approved list. The label clearly stated that 10 mg was the maximum daily dose. Hofling then selected 22 nurses at a hospital in the United States for the actual experiment.