A longitudinal study into the perceptions of caring among student nurses using multivariate analysis of the Caring Dimensions Inventory
A longitudinal study involving student nurses’ responses to the Caring Dimensions Inventory (CDI) was carried out to investigate the development of perceptions of caring. This study continues previously reported work in which the development of the CDI was described. The current study was designed to see if the CDI could detect changes in perceptions of caring among student nurses as they progressed through their training. Data were collected on the same subjects at three points, each a year apart, throughout the study. A cohort of 168 student nurses entering training was recruited into the present study and data from the CDI was analysed using exploratory factor analysis. A four factor structure for perceptions of caring throughout the study was supported, with some evidence for a five factor structure at 24 months into the programme of nurse education. A professional and technical factor increased in congruence with a similar factor, identified in a previous study, throughout the present study and was used to provide factor scores for individual students. There was a statistically significant and moderately sized correlation between the score on this factor and the age of the student nurses. The five factor solution yielded a factor of accountability. Professional and educational consequences of the study are discussed along with the problem of attrition in longitudinal studies.