Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Nursing and Allied Health Professions

First Advisor

Theresa Gropelli

Second Advisor

Teresa Shellenbarger

Third Advisor

Christoph Maier

Abstract

The aging population with complex health needs is growing. Nursing programs are challenged to educate student nurses competent and willing to meet this specific population’s needs. Research on ageism supports the presence of aging bias. Possible negative attitudes towards older persons by nursing students is a concern for nurse educators.

Nursing education literature describes how nursing students’ attitudes on aging may affect career choices and the quality of health care provided to older adults. The older adult population requires specialized nursing knowledge, skills, and attitudes to achieve positive outcomes and prevent serious geriatric syndromes. Further research in the area of student nurses’ knowledge and attitudes of older persons is crucial to prevent a shortage of nurses prepared to care for the increasing number of older adults.

The researcher examined the relationship between knowledge of aging and attitude on aging in final semester nursing students following multiple, national gerontology initiatives. The impact of demographic and educational factors on knowledge and attitude was also investigated. Understanding these relationships may facilitate the creation of nursing programs better designed to attract and prepare nursing students for gerontological nursing,

This study utilized a quantitative, correlational, cross-sectional design and was guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior using the following tools: Kogan’s Attitude Toward Old People, the Palmore’s Facts on Aging, and a researcher created demographic and educational tool. Findings from the national sample of 168 final semester nursing students showed a positive correlation between knowledge of aging and attitude toward older adults, more positive attitudes, improved knowledge, and a desire to work with older adults. Other statistically significant relationships were found between race, educational degree and attitude toward older adults which may impact nursing practice, nursing education, and future gerontological research. The findings of the current study have the potential to assist nurse educators in the context of curriculum design and delivery, to impact how nurses in health care practice can be influenced to behave toward older patients, and to guide subsequent research in areas of attitude and knowledge of older adults in nursing and other healthcare professionals.

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