• beliefs about older adults;
  • gerontological knowledge;
  • nursing education;
  • nursing students

baumbusch j., dahlke s. & phinney a. (2012) Nursing students’ knowledge and beliefs about care of older adults in a shifting context of nursing education. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(11), 2550–2558.


Aim.  To a report a study of improvements in students’ knowledge and beliefs about nursing care of older adults following completion of an introductory course with integrated adult/older adult content.

Background.  Nursing schools are under pressure to provide accelerated programmes to meet growing workforce demands and provide students with the knowledge they require to care for an ageing population. Thus, stand-alone courses in gerontological nursing are being eliminated and integrated with general adult content. The effect of this approach remains poorly understood.

Design.  A one-group pretest-post-test design was used.

Methods.  Data were collected between September–December 2010. Students completed the Palmore Facts on Aging Quiz, the Perceptions of Caring for Older People Scale, and open-ended questions about their experiences before and after completing a course with integrated adult/older content.

Results.  Students’ knowledge and beliefs about nursing care of older adults demonstrated an important improvement following completion of the course. Qualitative findings reflected three themes: relating to older people; neglect by the system; having time to learn.

Conclusions.  Findings from this study suggest that even when integrated with general adult content, students’ knowledge and beliefs about older adult care can be positively influenced. Furthermore research is needed to examine long-term integration of students’ learning about older adult care. Nursing faculty with expertise in nursing care of older adults must develop resources and supports for their colleagues to build capacity among nurse educators and integrate older adult content throughout nursing programmes to enhance nursing practice with an ageing population.