An investigation into the influence of professional socialisation on the attitudes and beliefs of student nurses towards older adults in the hospital setting.
This study aims to measure the attitudes and beliefs toward hospitalised older
adults that student nurses bring in to nurse education and to evaluate whether they
change during professional socialisation. A number of previous studies have
explored the attitudes of student nurses towards older people. However many of
those studies have produced inconclusive results. Moreover dated attitudinal
measures have been utilised to answer a broad range of questions relating to older
people. This research attempts to address the deficits in previous research.
Phase I of the study describes the qualitative approach in the form of six semi-structured
focus group interviews. Participants include trained nurses from the
care of older adults areas (n= 5+ 4); and from the acute clinical areas (n = 4);
nursing lecturers (n = 6) and student nurses (n = 9 + 8). Data are subjected to
interpretational analysis and ten themes are explicated. A systematic approach is
used to identify intergroup commonalities which are then incorporated into an
eighty item questionnaire. Phase 11 describes the quantitative approach in the form
of a twenty item Likert questionnaire. Convenience sampling is utilised in the
selection of subjects. 295 questionnaires were returned from a total of 388 (77%
return rate) from trained nurses in the acute areas (n = 62, 82% ), - from care of
older adults areas (n = 63, 69%); nursing lecturers from a school of nursing and
midwifery (n = 55, 93%); two cohorts of student nurses (n = 64, 78% - 50, 63%).
Comparative results demonstrate that there are significant intergroup differences.
Both student cohorts appear the least positive whereas the lecturers and nurses
who worked with older adults seem to be the most positive. The nurses who work
in the acute areas seem to be significantly less positive when compared to the
nurses who work with older people. The results indicate that nurses who spend
most time with student nurses have less positive attitudes and beliefs than other
groups. This may well have a detrimental effect on how student nurses view older
people. Awareness of our attitudes and beliefs are crucial so that older adults
receive the care they deserve. Thus the policy implications which arise from the
research relate to the implementation of strategies to raise the awareness of biases
against entering a career in nursing older people.