The onset and alleviation of learned helplessness in older hospitalised people

FAULKNER, M. (2001). The onset and alleviation of learned helplessness in older hospitalised people. Aging and mental health, 5 (4), 379-386.

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The objective of this study was to investigate the relevance of learned helplessness (LH) and learned mastery (LM) theories in the respective development of dependence and independence in older hospitalized people. A two-staged experiment was performed. In stage I, meal-related responses of patient participants ( n = 84) were automatically completed by a researcher during two consecutive mealtime events (LH induction). LH effects were then assessed by evaluating participant performance during a controllable meal-task and a non-meal-related psychomotor task. In stage II, "helpless" participants ( n = 35) were then given an expectation of future control over the mealtime event followed by two further meals during which the researcher provided no active assistance (LM induction). LM effects were assessed as in stage I. Participants exposed to the LH inducing strategy demonstrated LH effects within both the meal and psychomotor tasks. These effects were alleviated through exposing participants to the LM inducing intervention. Exposing older hospitalized people to uncontrollable or disempowering circumstances may potentially lead them to develop a LH induced dependence. This may be alleviated by increasing patient's expectation of control leading to the development of LM.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dementia, Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease, Developmental Psychology, Ethics & Legal issues in Mental Health, Gerontology, Gerontology (Ageing), Gerontology/Ageing, Neurology, Old Age Psychiatry, Psychiatry, Psychological Disorders - Adult, Social Work with the Elderly
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 379-386
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2008
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2021 01:15

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