Nursing students' attitudes towards HIV/AIDS patients in Finland, Estonia and Lithuania

Tarja Suominen, Niina Koponen, Vida Staniuliene, Natalja Istomina, Ilme Aro, Ima-Riina Kisper-Hint, Maj-Lis Vänskä, Maritta Välimäki
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences 2009, 23 (2): 282-9
This paper presents baseline data on attitudes towards HIV/AIDS patients and homophobic levels among nursing students in three Baltic Sea countries: Finland, Estonia and Lithuania. The aim is to describe and compare nursing students' attitudes in these three countries and to explore how attitudes towards HIV/AIDS correlate with background variables. The total sample comprised 471 nursing students. The respondents demonstrated average attitude scores towards patients with HIV/AIDS and rather positive attitudes towards homosexually oriented patients. Significant country differences were found, with Finnish nursing students showing the most positive attitudes towards HIV/AIDS patients and homosexually oriented patients. Previous experience of HIV/AIDS patients was the single factor with the greatest positive impact on nursing students' attitudes. Nursing students' willingness to provide care for an HIV/AIDS patient was associated with a positive attitude towards these patients. Length of employment experience correlated negatively with general attitude, and older nursing students with more work experience showed a more negative attitude towards homosexual patients. Proper education to achieve a sound knowledge base and good nursing skills promotes a more positive attitude to HIV/AIDS. It is important that nursing students are sensitive and show respect for the patient's human dignity. There is need for greater harmonization of education in the three countries.

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