The relevance of nurses' characteristics in learning hehaviour therapy



Factors that influence learning are of great interest to those concerned with health care. This is because they bear on the question of change in staff and patients. This study is a systematic investigation of the individual characteristics that the nurse brings to the learning situation and their association with change. The purpose of investigating this relationship is to clarify and pinpoint variables that may facilitate selection and predictions regarding learning. This in turn has great relevance for such aspects of nursing practice as patient teaching and in-service training. The study relates seven nurse variables to six measures of learning during an in-service course in behaviour therapy techniques for 65 qualified psychiatric nurses in the United Kingdom. The results suggest that some individual characteristics considered to impede learning, such as age, are unrelated. Other characteristics, such as academic qualifications, are expected to improve learning but were also found to be unrelated. The most significant associations were found for the relationship between prior knowledge and experience and measures of skill. The results are regarded as providing support for the argument of improved specification of both individual characteristics and learning. This improvement may lead in turn to modified nurse selection criteria, revised teaching methods, and to better patient care.