Attitudes of registered nurses towards patients with severe dementia

J Clin Nurs. 1999 Jul;8(4):353-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2702.1999.00261.x.


Meeting the needs and wishes of people with severe dementia is difficult and demanding for carers, and a number of approaches can be used in encounters with dementia sufferers. The aim of this study was to explore how registered nurses in a northern Norwegian county thought about approaching people with severe dementia. A patient case was used as a vignette, followed by a questionnaire with 13 sets of statements, each set containing two alternative approaches (one reality orientation approach and one personhood focused approach). In 12 out of the 13 sets of statements the reality orientation alternative was usually chosen, but responses to the statement regarding the meaning of confusion tended more towards the personhood focused approach. RNs with more than the basic education and staff nurses working in a team nursing system, chose the personhood focused approach significantly more often than RNs with no post-basic education and nurses working in a primary nursing system. The article discusses how reflection on daily experiences can improve one's ability to reflect on one's own experiences and encourage a personhood focused approach. Working in a team means gaining opportunities to reflect together with coworkers, while working in a primary nursing care system might afford fewer such opportunities.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Geriatric Nursing
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norway
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Nursing Staff / education*
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Nursing, Team
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Primary Nursing
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires