To explore the attitudes of nurses and nursing students in Scotland, Sweden and the US towards working with older people.
This quantitative study used the 20-item Multifactorial Attitudes Questionnaire (MAQ) to elicit attitudes on ageism, resources, working environment, education and professional esteem. Researchers from each country distributed the questionnaires to nursing students and nurses, giving a convenience sample of 1,587 respondents. Data were entered on the Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 18 and merged into one large dataset.
Scottish participants had the highest (positive) and Swedish participants the lowest mean MAQ score. The Kruskal-Wallis test showed significant differences in mean scores across the countries in 18 of the 20 statements, even when controlling for age and experience. Most participants gave positive responses, but agreed that negative attitudes towards working with older people pervade among peers due to working conditions, poor career prospects and a perceived lack of professional esteem.
Inspirational educators, excellent clinical placements and increasing the professional esteem of those working with older people are required to promote the specialty as an attractive career option.