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Changes in students' attitudes toward aging after a gerontological nursing course

Ann Danielle M Buttner, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Nurse educators are increasingly concerned about the existence of ageism in nursing students and its potential impact on the future delivery of health care to older adults. The purpose of this descriptive correlational study was to explore relationships between baccalaureate nursing students' ( N = 121) participation in a gerontological nursing course and attitudes towards older adults, personal aging anxiety, frequency and contact with older adults in five common areas of interaction, demographic variables, and likelihood of seeking a gerontological nursing practice in their careers. The Attitude Towards Elderly Scale and the Anxiety About Aging Scale were used to assess students' attitudes towards older adults, future likelihood of seeking a career in gerontological nursing, and personal aging anxiety at the beginning and end of the course. A survey form was used to obtain demographic data, e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, class, and number of prior courses on aging. Students showed significant improvement in attitudes toward the elderly, i.e., t (115) = 4.63, p < .01, by the end of the course. There was not a statistically significant difference in students' personal aging anxiety by the end of the course. The strongest significant (p < .01) relationships pertinent to students' quality and frequency of contact with older adults were found between quality of contact with older adults in students' families and pre-course attitude, r(120) = -.39, post-course attitude, r(115) = -.32, pre-course anxiety, r(120) = -.36, and post-course anxiety, r(114) = -.30. There were no significant relationships found between students' demographic data and pre-and-post course attitudes towards older adults or personal aging anxiety. Students did not indicate a significantly greater likelihood for pursuing gerontological nursing in the future by the end of the course. Implications for future research include: (a) exploring the impact of students' own anxiety about aging on ageism, and (b) developing strategies for increasing students' professional interest in gerontological nursing.^

Subject Area

Gerontology|Health Sciences, Nursing

Recommended Citation

Buttner, Ann Danielle M, "Changes in students' attitudes toward aging after a gerontological nursing course" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3331373.