Ageism in Nursing


Ageismin Nursing

Asthe health of older people keeps deteriorating, they need proper carefrom nurses and clinicians. The article ‘Attitudes of Healthcareworkers towards Older People in a Rural Population: A Survey Usingthe Kogan Scale’ by Doherty et al (2011) uses a qualitativeresearch method to explain the attitudes of nurses towards olderpeople. The purpose of this essay paper is to summarize the study anddetermine its significance in the nursing practice. It also explainsthe methods and research design used in the paper as well as theethical considerations identified in the study. This essay arguesthat Doherty et al (2011) uses a qualitative survey, and has foundout that nursing workers have positive attitudes towards the olderpeople. Nurses with higher education are also found to have morepositive attitudes. These findings contribute to the nursing practiceby encouraging clinicians to develop positive attitudes throughhigher education and patient engagement. As a qualitative study, itsethical consideration is that consent was sought from participantsand relevant authorities, and privacy and confidentiality ofparticipants of the study were also considered.

Thepurpose of the study was to identify and evaluate the attitudes ofhealthcare assistance, nurses and nursing students towards olderpatients. After surveying a rural county in the Republic of Ireland,the study found out that the level of attitude of nursing workerstowards older patients was positive. Attitudes of respondents weremeasured using Kogan’s Attitudes towards Older People Scale (KOP)which showed that there was no significant difference in terms oflength of service, gender, job title and geographical place of work(Doherty et al, 2011). However, the attitudes KOP score differedbetween university graduates and those who do not have universitydegree. The study also found out that structural context of work andrestrictive practices at the workplace cause negative attitudes amonghealth care workers. There was no significant difference between KOPscores in different health care settings including community settingsand nursing health facilities. This was considered to be in line withother past studies which did not detect significant differences inattitudes within different work settings.

Thisstudy suggests that healthcare assistance often come face to facewith older people, yet their attitudes have not been given enoughattention by researchers. According to the study, 37.7% of the healthcare assistants are university graduates (Doherty et al, 2011). Likeprevious studies, this study has found out that the universitygraduates have positive attitudes towards older people. As the shifttowards nursing among university students increases, graduate nurseshave developed more positive attitudes than non-graduate nursesbecause higher levels of education gives people better opportunitiesand make them more preferable and stable in terms of jobopportunities.

Toarrive at these findings, the study used a qualitative approach wherethe attitudes of nurses were collected through surveys in one of therural counties of the Republic of Ireland. The rural area was chosenbecause rural areas of Ireland are characterized by rural-urbanmigration, leaving the older population without good care (Doherty etal, 2011). A survey questionnaire was administered and attitudes ofnurses were measured using Kogan’s Attitudes towards Older PeopleScale (KOP). The KOP was measured in 6-point Likert scale startingwith highly positive (6) to highly negative (1). The questionnairewas divided into two sections one covered contextual and demographicdata while the second part covered the Kogan’s attitudes towardsolder people.

Theresearchers sent the questionnaire by post to 20 public health nurseswith an envelope to be used to send back the response (Doherty et al,2011). The sample of respondents was selected using a simple randomsampling approach. The total number of questionnaires sent to therespondents was 303, but 190 of them were returned, reflecting 62.2%response rate.

Thedata was analysed by first coding the questionnaires and standardmethods were used to calculate KOP scores. The KOP scores werecomputed using 6-point Likert scale and the positive attitudesreceived higher scores (Doherty et al, 2011). The results were thenanalysed using statistical software SPSS. The characteristics of thesample were also explored using descriptive statistics. Thesignificance level of the statistical data was 0.05. Mean attitudescores were computed using t-tests. Variance was also determined.

Thereare also some ethical considerations covered by the study. First, theparticipants were requested to participate voluntarily in the study.This is ethical because the participants were not forced or inducedwith stipends to participate. As a result, participants providesincere and objective responses that reflect their true attitudestowards older people, and causing the study to produce objective andunbiased results (Loaderet al, 2009).The responses were also sealed in envelopes to enhance privacy of theparticipants. Approval to proceed with the research was also soughtfrom the Research Ethics Committee of the University of Ulster andthe regional hospital’s Ethics Committee (Doherty et al, 2011).Apart from approval and privacy of participants, the study alsofocused other ethical approaches such as anonymity of participants,confidentiality, and informed consent. The different healthcaresettings including community health settings, nursing units and acutehospitals were contacted in writing to seek for informed consent andpermission. There was also little risk involved because theparticipants were employed nursing and healthcare workers.

Thisstudy has significant implications on the nursing practice. First,the study is used in policy implementation within the health caresector because it provides good insights on the level of attitudesrequired for health care workers and the antecedents of positiveattitudes. The study found out that there are positive attitudes ofnurses and other health care workers towards old people in acute andcare programs (Doherty et al, 2011). Therefore, nursing managementsand administrations utilize this finding to provide better care toold people who do not have enough care at their homes. The study alsofound out that rural areas require more attention from health careworkers for the older people because young people have left them insearch of better jobs in towns. In this regard, health care sectoruses this finding to improve its investment in nursing and care ofolder people in rural areas (Courtney et al, 2000). Lastly, the studyis significant in nursing practice because it encourages highereducation for nurses. The study determined that higher educationcontributes to more positive attitudes of nurses towards olderpeople. Therefore, the level of education for health care workersshould be improved to enhance better care for older people.

Inconclusion, it is clear that the study focused on the attitudes ofhealth care workers towards older people. Using survey questionnairessent to 20 respondents in rural counties of the Republic of Ireland,the study shows that nurses generally have positive attitudes towardsolder people, but the level of attitudes improves with the level ofeducation of the health care workers. The study had some ethicalconsiderations including informed consent, privacy, confidentiality,and anonymity of respondents. The policy implications of the study onnursing practice is that it encourages higher education among nursingprofessionals and encourages more involvement of health care workersin caring for older people in rural areas.


Courtney,M. D., Shilu, T., &amp Walsh, A. M. (2000). Acute Care Nurses`Attitudes towards Older Patients: a Literature Review. InternationalJournal of Nursing Practice,62-69.

Doherty,M., Mitchell, E. A., &amp O`Neill, S. (2011). Attitudes ofHealthcare Workers towards Older People in a Rural Population: ASurvey Using the Kogan Scale. NursingResearch and Practice,vol. 2011, 1-7.

Loader,B., Hardey, M., &amp Keeble, L. (2009). Digitalwelfare for the third age: Health and social care informatics forolder people.London: Routledge.