Attitudes toward death and dying in nursing students



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Problem The purpose of this research was to explore the influence of nursing education in the area of death and dying on nursing students' attitudes toward caring for a dying patient. Specifically, the study attempted to answer the following question: Is there any significant measurable difference between the attitudes of nursing students who receive nursing education in the area of death and dying and those who do not receive any special instruction? Nursing education in this research study consisted of a film entitled 'Hazards and Challenges of Providing Care' which is a division of the series 'Perspectives on Death and Dying,' that was shown to participants in the experimental study which was followed by an instructor-led seminar and study guide questions. This experimental study incorporated the use of three groups — two experimental and one control. Each experimental group received instruction about death and dying followed by the administration of the attitude toward death and dying scale (ATDAD). The control group did not receive any special instruction but was administered the ATDAD scale. The results of the attitude scale on the experimental and control groups were analyzed to test the effects of the experiment. Sample The subjects of the study were 500 senior baccalaureate nursing students enrolled in five university schools of nursing in Houston, Texas. From these 500 senior nursing students, 150 were randomly selected using a table of random numbers for the experimental study. The ATDAD scale was administered to 150 senior baccalaureate nursing students who did not participate in the experimental study but did volunteer to fill out the attitude scale and provide demographic data for the study. Construct validation of the ATDAD scale was accomplished through factor analysis. Findings and Conclusions Three null hypotheses tested by the 2x3 analysis of variance with repeated measures on one factor research design were rejected at the p<05 level and such rejection was tantamount to accepting the two research hypotheses. The findings suggest the following: instruction in death and dying makes a difference in nursing students attitudes. The demographic variables were found to be interactive with more positive attitudes toward death and dying. Further study should test the effectiveness of different curricular designs and nurses' retention of positive attitudes over a longer period of time than was used in this study.