Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

Nurses' Attitudes toward Older Patients in Acute Care in Israel

Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

Nurses' Attitudes toward Older Patients in Acute Care in Israel

Article excerpt

Abstract

Ageism has been found to negatively affect the health care services that older persons receive, both implicitly through unfair resource allocation by the stakeholders, and explicitly, by providing offensive and poor quality treatment. In this article, the authors review the literature relating to ageing, noting that negative attitudes among caregivers toward older patients in acute care settings are a strong predictor of ageism. They describe a study in which they explored a group of Israeli nurses' knowledge of ageing and attitudes toward older people in an acute care setting and analyzed the relationship between these variables using a descriptive, correlational design method. Nurses working in one of the largest public hospital in Israel completed Kogan's Attitudes Towards Older People Scale and Palmore's Facts on Ageing Quiz. Findings indicated that the nurses' level of knowledge of ageing was relatively low. The authors discuss nurses' knowledge of ageing and nurses' ethnicity as significant predictors of ageist attitudes. They conclude by recommending that nurse educators strengthen gerontological content in the nursing curriculum and provide culturally tailored nursing education to reduce ageism among professional nurses.

Keywords: Ageism, gerontological knowledge, gerontological education of nurses, attitudes toward ageing, Kogan's Attitudes Towards Older People Scale, Palmore's Facts on Ageing Quiz, Israel

Until the early 18th century, global population size was relatively static and the lives of the vast majority of people were "nasty, brutish, and short" (Bloom & Canning. 2008, p 4.). Since then, the size and structure of the global population have undergone extraordinary changes. In particular, life expectancy has increased by three decades and in the 21st century it is projected to further increase by yet another two decades (Bicket. 2002J. In Israel, the population is relatively young. However, the demographic trend is similar to that found in many developed countries in that the population is ageing. Israeli life expectancy at birth is currently 80.4 years; persons over 65 years of age constitute 10.1% of the population (Israeli Agency. 2009)

This increase in the older population (65 years and older) requires that health care systems worldwide respond to new challenges (Crimmins. 2004J. One prominent issue in the field of gerontology is discrimination against individuals based on their chronological age, a phenomenon that is often termed 'ageism' (Corner. Brittain. & Bond. 2007: Nelson. 2002). Ageism has been found to negatively affect the health care services that older persons receive, both implicitly through unfair resource allocation by the stakeholders, and explicitly, by providing offensive and poor quality treatment (Lothian & Philp. 2001). Negative biases and ageist attitudes among caregivers, and particularly nurses, toward older people in acute care settings, are among its more notable expressions in the health care system (Holrovd, Dahlke. Fehr. Jung. & Hunter. 2009J. Identifying those attitudes constitutes the first step in understanding the many facets of interactions between nurses and older patients.

Ever since Allport's intergroup contact theory was described in the early 1950s, social and educational sciences theoreticians have maintained that attitudes have a strong influence on an individual's actual behavior (Aizen. 2005; Allport. 1954). It is important to Identify both nurses' attitudes toward older patients and the factors that correlate with those attitudes to understand, predict, and if necessary, change behaviors of nurses working with an older population, thus minimizing ageism in nursing practice.

Literature Review

In this literature review, we will consider two branches of research regarding nurses' attitudes toward older patients. First, we will summarize research addressing nurses' attitudes toward older patients in acute care; then we will consider factors affecting nurses' perceptions of old age. …

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