• ageism;
  • nurse attitudes;
  • older people

Objectives.  This paper reports the results of a study that aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of an educational and experiential intervention on nursing students’ attitudes towards older people.

Background.  With repeated exposure to very sick older people in hospitals or nursing homes, nursing students are at risk of adopting stereotypical views about this section of the population as frail and dependent.

Design.  A pre- and post-test design was used to conduct the study.

Methods.  Using Kogan's Attitudes Towards Old People Scale, the attitudes of nursing students were tested at the beginning of a degree programme in Adult Nursing (n = 130) and one year later (n = 94) following a series of visits to a well-older person in the community.

Results.  Nursing students reported positive attitudes towards older people and these were retained throughout the first year of their nurse training. No statistically significant differences were found associated with any of the five independent variables in either pre- or postintervention students.

Conclusions.  The attitudes of nursing students towards older people remained positive. While it is possible that the experiential and educational interventions utilized in this study may have contributed to the retention of positive attitudes, further research is required to test this hypothesis.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Nurses have a major role to play in responding to the health and social care needs of older people and their families. The cultivation of positive attitudes is a key factor in enabling practising nurses to respond to this challenge.