An investigation into the influence of professional socialisation on the attitudes and beliefs of student nurses towards older adults in the hospital setting

  • Isabella McLafferty

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


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 semistructured 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 II 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.
Date of AwardNov 2001
Original languageEnglish

Cite this