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Nurses' attitudes toward elderly people and knowledge of gerontic care in a mult-purpose health service (MPHS)

Prue Mellor, Daniel Chew, Jennene Greenhill
Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing: a Quarterly Publication of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation 2007, 24 (4): 37-41
17682412

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to explore the attitudes of nurses working in a multi-purpose health service (MPHS) toward elderly people and their understanding of gerontic care. As there are no previous studies in this area of nursing it is anticipated that this study will provide the basis for further exploration.

DESIGN: A descriptive, non- experimental quantitative research design using a self-report questionnaire was used for this study.

SETTING: This study was conducted at a rural MPHS in Northern Queensland, Australia.

SUBJECTS: A sample group of thirty-one staff members from a single MPHS were the participants of this study.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Multiple outcome measures were used. Nurses' attitudes were assessed using Kogan's Old People's Scale (KOPS). Nurses' knowledge was measured using Palmore's Facts of Ageing Quiz (PFAQ) and a second instrument, the Nurses' Knowledge of Elderly Patients Quiz (NKEPQ), which was developed by the authors of this study.

RESULTS: The key findings indicated that even though nurses in this MPHS have strongly positive attitudes toward elderly people, they have knowledge deficits in key clinical areas of both gerontic nursing and socio-economic understanding of the ageing population in Australia.

CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first of its kind to investigate attitudes and knowledge of nurses working in an MPHS towards the elderly residents in their care. Due to the small sample size, these findings are not generalisable; nevertheless, these results assist with the identification of knowledge gaps and highlight areas for improved education which is essential in the delivery of high-quality, effective care.

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