Predictors of medical and nursing students' levels of HIV-AIDS knowledge and their resistance to working with AIDS patients

Acad Med. 1990 Jul;65(7):470-1. doi: 10.1097/00001888-199007000-00014.


Among health professionals, knowledge about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is often limited, inaccurate, or both. Many health professionals also resist working with AIDS patients. This 1988 survey examined exaggerated risk estimates for HIV contagion in relationship to HIV-AIDS knowledge and resistance to working with AIDS patients among medical and nursing students at a large Northwestern teaching hospital. The results indicate that among the respondents, exaggerated risk estimates were associated both with a lack of HIV-AIDS knowledge and with greater resistance to working with AIDS patients. Results from multiple regression analyses revealed that (1) a lack of clinical experience with AIDS patients and (2) antihomosexual attitudes were significantly associated with the students' lack of HIV-AIDS knowledge, even after controlling for the effects of exaggerated risk estimates. The first two variables also were shown to be significantly predictive of the students' resistance to working with AIDS patients, as was an intolerance of drug use and drug users, beyond the influence of exaggerated risk estimates. Specific approaches of developing effective HIV-AIDS educational programs for health professionals are proposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / psychology*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Refusal to Treat*
  • San Francisco
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Students, Nursing / psychology*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous