Attitudes towards the older patients with spinal cord injury among registered nurses: a cross-sectional observational study.

Research paper by J C JC Furlan, B C BC Craven, R R Ritchie, L L Coukos, M G MG Fehlings

Indexed on: 15 Apr '09Published on: 15 Apr '09Published in: Spinal Cord


Cross-sectional observational study.Acute-care unit and tertiary rehabilitation centre in Ontario, Canada.To evaluate attitudes towards older patients among nurses caring for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), and examine potential determinants of ageist attitudes.Using Kogan's Old People Scale, this questionnaire-based survey assesses attitudes towards older patients among registered nurses working in an acute-care unit, registered nurses working in a rehabilitation centre and individuals with chronic SCI.Although individuals with SCI and nurses working in the rehabilitation setting were statistically comparable regarding their attitudes towards older patients, nurses working in the acute-care unit hold more ageist attitudes than their rehabilitation-nursing counterparts (P=0.003). Among nurses, a higher level of education and working in the rehabilitation setting were associated with fewer ageist attitudes (P<0.03). There was a trend for an association between older age and more positive attitudes towards older patients (P=0.069).Our questionnaire-based survey, which appears to represent the population of interest, identified significant differences in the attitudes towards older patients between nurses working in the acute-care setting versus rehabilitation setting who showed similar attitudes towards individuals with SCI. The most reliable factor associated with the nurses' attitudes was their level of education. Given that the practice of ageism has the potential to prejudice service provision and ultimately recovery of patients with SCI, further research and knowledge dissemination activities for nurses caring for elderly patients with SCI should be sought.