• attitudes;
  • intellectual disabilities;
  • non-nursing peers;
  • nursing students;
  • physical disabilities


Title. Attitudes towards people with physical or intellectual disabilities: nursing students and non-nursing peers.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study of the attitudes of Dutch nursing students towards people with physical or intellectual disabilities.

Background.  Attitudes of healthcare professionals are a major factor in the rehabilitation and self-acceptance of persons with disabilities. Consequently, it is important that nurses develop or maintain positive attitudes towards people with disabilities during their education. However, more knowledge is needed about current attitudes of nursing students and factors influencing these attitudes.

Methods.  A sample of Dutch nursing students (= 81) and an age-matched group of non-nursing peers (= 48) completed standardized scales measuring attitudes about physically or intellectually disabled people. Data were collected in 2006.

Findings.  Nursing students were more positive towards physically disabled people than their peers, and more strongly endorsed empowerment and similarity of intellectually disabled people. These attitudinal differences generally remained statistically significant after multivariate adjustment for demographic variables and experience and contact with individuals with disabilities. An important independent determinant of a positive attitude towards physically disabled people in the total sample was having a relative or friend with a physical disability. This association, however, was not apparent in attitudes towards intellectually disabled persons.

Conclusion.  Educational interventions aimed at improving attitudes towards people with disabilities should include focus on forms of contact beyond the context of formal care relationships.