The Effects of a Nursing Fundamentals Course on the Attitudes of Beginning Nursing Students Toward Older Persons

Saturday, 16 November 2013: 3:35 PM

Sheila Jean Capp, PhD, MSN1
Margaret Williams, PhD, RN, CNE2
Barbara G Vahle, MSN3
Autumn Voss, MSN3
Ashley R Darbyshire, MSN-ED3
(1)Cpllege of Nursing, Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing, Quincy, IL
(2)Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing, Quincy, IL
(3)College of Nursing, Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing, Quincy, IL

Learning Objective 1: Describe student attitudes toward older adults.

Learning Objective 2: Implement educational strategies to facilitate positive attitudes among nursing students toward older adults.

As the baby boomers are aging there is a progressive shift in the numbers of older Americans.  Nursing education needs to be responsive to the changing demographics and intentionally design strategies to incorporate gerontology content into course and clinical experiences. Societal influences and lack of understanding about generational differences may cause nursing students to enter their educational program with negative attitudes toward older adults.

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a nursing fundamentals course on the attitudes of beginning nursing students toward older persons. The nursing fundamentals clinical experiences were intentionally designed with well elderly adults to foster realistic and positive interactions. The research questions were:

  1. Is there a significant difference in the attitudes of beginning nursing students toward older adults before and after the nursing fundamentals course?
  2. Are there personal characteristics or experiences of beginning nursing students that are related to positive or negative attitudes toward older adults?

The study used mixed methods. A pre-experimental design of one group pre-test post-test was used with reflective qualitative questions included in the post-test. A convenience sample of 87 students enrolled in the first clinical course participated in the study. The participants were female (77%) , Caucasian (90%) and in the 18-22 (84%) year old age group.  Three tools were used in the study. A demographic questionnaire was completed by each student, along with the Kogan’s Attitudes Toward Older People Scale (KOP) at the beginning of the course. A different version of the KOP was used at the end of the course, along with 4 qualitative questions.

There were statistically significant correlations between pre-course and post-course attitudes. There were no significant differences between pre-test and post-test KOP scores; however, several major themes emerged from the qualitative data that reflected positive attitudinal changes.