Improving Student Nurses' Attitudes Towards the Elderly

69 Pages Posted: 8 May 2017

See all articles by Maria Mackey

Maria Mackey

American Sentinel University - DNP Educational Leadership Program, Students

Date Written: August 1, 2016


The elderly population is projected to nearly double by the year 2030. With the increased number of elderly needing healthcare and concerns of ageist attitudes towards the elderly, student nurses need to have a better understanding of this patient population and the implications of providing biased care. Research indicates that there are multiple variables that help form attitudes about the elderly, and the positive influence of education. Using Kogan’s (1961) Attitudes Towards Old People scale, this project surveyed attitudes of pre-licensure diploma level nursing students, both before and after the completion of a seven-week gerontology specific course, guided by Miller’s (1990) Functional Consequences Theory for Promoting Wellness in Older Adults. Using an independent-samples t-test, before gerontology ATOP total scores were compared to after gerontology ATOP total scores to determine if the gerontology specific education improved student nurses’ attitudes toward the elderly. The findings of this project demonstrated no significant difference in scores for before and after, suggesting that the intervention of gerontology specific education had no impact as a strategy to improve student attitudes. The lack of improvement may be a result of students already having positive attitudes. Another reason that the results may have failed to demonstrate an improvement in student attitudes after gerontology education, was the sample size which may have been too small to capture a change that may have occurred with a larger sample size.

Keywords: Attitudes Towards Old People scale, pre-licensure nursing, gerontology specific education, student attitudes, Miller’s Functional Consequences theory

Suggested Citation

Mackey, Maria, Improving Student Nurses' Attitudes Towards the Elderly (August 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Maria Mackey (Contact Author)

American Sentinel University - DNP Educational Leadership Program, Students ( email )

United States

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