Study of nurses' attitudes and anxieties toward death and dying

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Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Nursing
Department Nursing
Author Seegmiller, Mary Elizabeth Mester
Title Study of nurses' attitudes and anxieties toward death and dying
Date 1972-08
Description The subject of death and dying are of growing concern to all nurses, particularly psychiatric nurses. This study was conducted to compare attitudes and anxieties about death between nurses who graduated from a two-year associated degree, or a four-year baccalaureate program in nursing. The sample consisted of 510 registered nurses (65% return rate) who answered a mailed questionnaire. They graduated between the years of 1967-1971 from Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City and Prove, Weber State College, Ogden, and the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. The respondents were also divided into subgroups according to work specialization and the extent to which the investigator perceived them to have contact with critically ill and dying patients. The questionnaire employed the semantic differential and included Emotionality and Evaluative Scales developed by Folta (1965), and an Anxiety Scale constructed by Forrest (1970). An analysis of variance was done to compare responses to the three scales for the two and four-year programs, and for the sub grouping of nurses' area of interest. Variables such as educational degree, years since graduation, years worked and experience with critically ill patients were Interco related with scores on the three scales. There were no significant differences among the four schools on the scales. However, many variable were not controlled for which could have influenced this finding. It is of interest to note the tendency for scores on all scales to be lower with more educational preparation, but the results did not reach statistical significance. There were no significant differences among the nurses regarding years of total work experience and Evaluative and Anxiety Scores. Recent graduates were no different in their attitudes toward death and dying than those nurses who had been graduated for longer than one year. Significant negative correlations were found between total work experience and Emotionality, (-.08, p<.05) and between experience with critically ill patients and Anxiety (-.07m p<.05). Since neither the number of years since graduation, nor age significantly correlated with any of the scales, it was assumed that some nurses had prior work experiences before completing a degree program. Married nurses exhibit a significant tendency for higher scores on Anxiety than did single nurses. There were no significant differences among areas of interest and the Emotionality of Evaluative Scales. Significant variance (p<.05) was found among the subgroups for the Anxiety Scale, indicating there were differences in the way various specialty groups viewed death and dying relative to the Anxiety Scale. It had been hypothesized that nurses working in pediatrics would have the highest scores on the three scales. Nurses who listed pediatrics as their area of specialization ranked fourth highest on Anxiety, second on Emotionality, and seventh on Evaluative. Nurses in geriatrics and high risk nursing followed by those in teaching, office nursing, school and research, ranked higher than the other groups on the Anxiety Scale. The group with the lowest mean Anxiety score was the emergency room nurses. The criteria used for classifying nurses into a specialty subgroup were not considered valid for drawing meaningful conclusions. Suggestions are made as to how this might be more appropriately accomplished as well as for utilizing alternative statistical methods for analyzing the data. The importance of including study of death and dying in nursing curricula is endorsed in a meaningful way, by the large percentage of nurses interested enough in the topic to respond to the questionnaire. While attitude measurement is difficult, ways need to be found to evaluate the impact of needed changes in nursing education. Further evaluation of the questionnaire and control for variables is of crucial importance for future studies of attitudes toward death.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Psychological: Attitude
Subject MESH Attitude to Health; Attitude of Health Personnel; Death
Dissertation Institution University of Utah
Dissertation Name MS
Language eng
Relation is Version of Digital reproduction of "A study of nurses' attitudes and anxieties toward death and dying." Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. Print version of "A study of nurses' attitudes and anxieties toward death and dying." available at J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collection. T2.5 1972 .S42.
Rights Management © Mary Elizabeth Mester Seegmiller
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 4,411,447 bytes
Identifier undthes,5017
Source Original: University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (no longer available).
Master File Extent 4,411,503 bytes
ARK ark:/87278/s6668g3m
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2012-04-24
Date Modified 2012-04-24
ID 191898
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6668g3m