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Determination of the attitudes of nurses about caring for patients with AIDS

Rachel E Chandler, University of Massachusetts Amherst


An original AIDS Attitude Scale was distributed to registered nurses employed in intensive care, medical, medical-surgical, and surgical units of four western Massachusetts hospitals. 439 completed questionnaires, representing a 64.6% response rate, were returned by mail. Results of data analysis indicated that nurses would be more cautious than necessary in using precautions while handling body secretions of or doing nursing procedures with patients with AIDS. Nurses form a small community hospital and those with less experience in caring for AIDS patients would be more cautious than those from a teaching medical center and those who had cared for six or more AIDS patients. Two-thirds of the nurses would feel a great deal of stress in caring for seriously ill adult AIDS patients. Significant differences in mean stress scores for caring for patients with five diagnoses indicate that AIDS patients evoke the most amount of stress, and those with extensive burns, multiple trauma, metastatic cancer, or hepatitis B evoke decreasing amounts of stress, in that order. More than one-half of the respondents indicated that more than one-half of their family members/significant others had expressed concern about their becoming infected with HIV as a result of caring for AIDS patients. Teaching hospital respondents reported a significantly greater percent of concerned persons than did those from community hospitals. Multiple regression analysis of the twelve Likert items indicated that having a family member/personal friend with AIDS, having a greater percent of concerned persons, being male, or being employed in a small community hospital were associated with a less favorable attitude about caring for AIDS patients. The coefficient alpha (Cronbach's alpha) for the Likert scale was.72. Factor analysis of the Likert scale identified five subconcepts: stigma; pregnancy concern; mortality/prognosis stress; resource utilization; and HIV-status knowledge. Study results are limited to the respondents. Implications of the results for health services managers include implementation of a multi-faceted educational and support program for nurses caring for AIDS patients. Suggestions for further research include replication of the study with nurses in different clinical specialties, settings, and geographic regions.

Subject Area

Nursing|Public health|Health care

Recommended Citation

Chandler, Rachel E, "Determination of the attitudes of nurses about caring for patients with AIDS" (1990). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9100512.