Impact of the Geriatric Medication Game® on Nursing Students Empathy and Attitudes toward Older Adults

Wednesday, 1 August 2012: 4:10 PM

Karen S. Yehle, PhD, MS, RN
School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Aleda M. H. Chen, PharmD, PhD
School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Cedarville University, Cedarville, OH
Mary E. Kiersma, PharmD, PhD
School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Manchester College, Fort Wayne, IN
Kimberly S. Plake, PhD, RPh
Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe nursing students’ attitudes towards older adults after completing an aging simulation game.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to describe nursing students' changes in empathy after completing an aging simulation game.


It is estimated that in 2050 nearly two billion people worldwide will be 60 years or older, and nurses must be well-prepared to improve and address their health-related needs. However, it may be difficult for students to understand and empathize with older adults, as they may not yet have experienced aging-related challenges.  The purpose of this project was to examine the impact of participation in an aging simulation game on nursing students’ empathy and attitudes toward older adults as well as their understanding of the healthcare system. 


Nursing students played the role of an older adult during a 3-hour in-class aging simulation game, the Geriatric Medication Game® (GMG). Students were given aging-related challenges (e.g., impaired vision, mobility) and navigated six stations in a simulated healthcare system (e.g., a visit to a healthcare provider, a pharmacy).  Pre-post changes in empathy were measured using the Kiersma-Chen Empathy Scale (KCES, 15 items) and the Jefferson Scale of Empathy – Health Professional Students (JSE-HPS, 20 items), and attitudes and healthcare understanding using the Geriatric Medication Game Experience Survey (GMGES, 13 items).  All scales were Likert-type.  Analyses were performed using IBM SPSS v. 19.0.  Pre-post changes were assessed using paired t-tests, since the data was normally distributed.


A total of 58 nursing students participated.  Students’ empathy toward older adults improved overall (JSE-HPS p=0.027), and on several individual items from the JSE-HPS and KCES scales (p<0.05), relating to considering patient’s feelings. Improvements also were seen on 8 questions from the GMGES (p<0.05), related to improved knowledge of the healthcare system and willingness to be understanding towards older adults.


The GMG provides an opportunity for nursing students to develop empathy  and to improve attitudes toward older adults.  The KCES, JSE-HPS, and GMGES provide means to assess changes in student attitudes and empathy toward older adults.