Shifts in attitudes, knowledge, and social goals in nursing students following structured contact with community-dwelling older adults


Background: Traditional nursing pedagogies have not systematically addressed the ageist perspectives students bring into training that threaten competent care for older adults. The current study evaluated nursing students' shifts in attitudes, knowledge about aging, and social goals during a program of repeated and structured social interactions with community-dwelling older adults. Method: Beginning nursing students in pairs met with high-functioning older adults four times over 8 months to provide brief health promotion activities. Students' knowledge and attitudes on aging were assessed at baseline and prior to each visit; social goals were assessed after each visit. Results: Multilevel growth curves revealed increases in students' knowledge about aging and positive views on caring for older adults. Motivation to help older adults (i.e., compassionate goals) did not change, but students' motivation to defend their competence (i.e., self-image goals) declined. Conclusion: A relational contact-based program may shift knowledge, attitudes, and social goals in nursing students, complementing traditional classroom nursing education.

Journal of Nursing Education
Adam P. McGuire
Adam P. McGuire
Assistant Professor of Psychology