Dutch nursing students’ knowledge and attitudes towards older people - A longitudinal cohort study

Nienke Bleijenberg


Background: Due to changing demographics in the population, the majority of current nursing students will work mostlywith older people after graduation. It is known that most nursing student have little knowledge and interests in workingwith older people. There is a growing need for motivated nurses to provide care for older people as the quality of care isinfluenced by their attitudes. The objective of this study is to investigate Dutch nursing students’ knowledge of andattitudes toward older people and their willingness to work with older people and how this knowledge and attitudeschanges after three years education.

Methods: A longitudinal cohort study with follow-up among 113 first-year Dutch nursing students pursuing a Bachelor’sdegree was conducted. Data for this study was collected with three instruments. Knowledge of the first-year students wasassessed with Palmore’s Facts on Aging Quiz. Students’ attitudes were measured with the Aging Semantic Differentialscale and Kogan’s Attitudes toward Older People scale. The same measurements were also obtained three years later whenthey were fourth-year nursing students. The first data collection started in 2005. The follow-up period took place between2008 and 2009.

Results: The results show that the nursing students have a moderate knowledge level about older people: first-yearstudents answered less than half of the questions correctly and after three years, almost half of the questions were answeredproperly. The attitude of the students toward older people on the ASD changed from slightly negative to neutral after threeyears of education. The attitude of nursing students on the OP changed from moderately neutral to slightly positive. Fewfirst and fourth-year students (2.7% and 3.7%) were interested in working with older people after their nursing education.Most students (72.8%) indicated that working with older people would be as satisfying as working with younger people.

Conclusion: Nursing students are not well prepared for working with predominately older people. Education should focuson increasing positive working experiences with older people. Revision and improvement in the curricula might be neededto enhance the knowledge and attitudes of the Dutch nursing students.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v2n2p1

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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