Aims. This paper reports a study that aimed to determine Nigerian nurses’ knowledge, attitudes and overall level of comfort in giving nursing care to acquired immune deficiency syndrome patients; determine the relationship between these variables; and identify the sociodemographic variables that influence nurses’ attitudes and how comfortable they are giving nursing care to patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Background. There is little information on sub-Saharan African nurses’ knowledge, attitude and feeling of comfort in providing care to patients living with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Methods. Two hundred and seventy-seven nurses in two teaching hospitals and two general hospitals in Nigeria were surveyed in 2003. The survey questionnaire had two parts. Part I elicited demographic information and information on previous encounters with acquired immune deficiency syndrome patients and Part II consisted of three subscales assessing knowledge, attitude and level of comfort administering certain nursing procedures to acquired immune deficiency syndrome patients.
Results. Respondents demonstrated low levels of knowledge and poor attitudes towards people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Attitudes appeared to be influenced by the nurse's speciality, rank, prior education and experience with patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The responding nurses showed low levels of comfort in giving care to patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Conclusions. The findings suggest that Nigerian nurses will hesitate to care for patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and that there is potential for avoidance behaviour towards them. Periodic continuing education and curriculum enhancement to include clinical clerkship, structured experience, guided discussion on ethical scenarios and attitude exploration are suggested in order to achieve and maintain adequate knowledge and a positive attitude. University-based professional and postprofessional nursing education, which could enhance acquisition of a broad knowledge base, therefore represents the future direction.