Authors: Kimzey M, Mastel-Smith B, Alfred D
Nurse Educ Today. 2016 Nov;46:57-63
BACKGROUND: As the population ages, the effects of Alzheimer's disease will be felt by all nurses. Providing proper care for people with Alzheimer's disease is difficult and requires specific skills, attitudes, and knowledge. Limited data exists regarding nursing students' attitudes and knowledge toward people with Alzheimer's disease, whether undergraduate education prepares students to care for this population, or the best methods to support students in learning in an innovative and interactive environment.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine the effect of different educational experiences on nursing students' knowledge and attitudes toward people with Alzheimer's disease and to explore nursing students' knowledge and attitudes surrounding the care of people with Alzheimer's disease.
DESIGN: A convergent mixed method design. A three group (Alzheimer's disease clinical experience, online learning module, and no dementia-specific intervention), pretest and posttest design served as the quantitative arm of the study. A focus group discussion with themes extracted served as the qualitative piece of the study.
SETTING: College of Nursing in North Texas.
PARTICIPANTS: Convenience sample of 94 senior level nursing students enrolled in the undergraduate nursing program's Community Health course.
METHOD: Students completed pre and posttest surveys which included Alzheimer's Disease Knowledge Scale, Dementia Attitudes Scale, and demographic questionnaire. Content analysis was conducted on focus group responses to qualitative interview questions.
RESULTS: The Alzheimer's disease clinical group experienced increased knowledge and improved attitudes toward people with Alzheimer's disease compared with students who completed the online module or had no dementia-specific intervention. Four themes emerged from focus group data: Basic Alzheimer's disease knowledge, need for Alzheimer's disease experiential learning, negative feelings related to behaviors, and appropriate responses to behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.
CONCLUSION: Experiential learning in the form of clinical placements increased knowledge and improved attitudes about Alzheimer's disease compared with an online module and no dementia-specific intervention.