Background: Nurses are the professional group with the greatest contact with those at the end of life and their attitudes towards the care of the dying is important in care delivery.
Aim: We investigated the relationship between student nurses' attitudes towards care of the dying and (1) demographics, (2) course factors and (3) experience of caring for people who are dying.
Design: A cross-sectional survey using the Frommelt's Attitude Toward Care of the Dying scale to measure respondents' attitudes.
Setting/participants: Nursing students studying at a university in the United Kingdom.
Results: A total of 567 completed questionnaires were returned, with 91.9% of respondents being classed as having a positive attitude towards care of the dying (Frommelt's Attitude Toward Care of the Dying score ⩾65). In adjusted analysis, higher (more positive) Frommelt's Attitude Toward Care of the Dying scores were associated with time on course and experience of caring for the dying. Third-year students had a score of 2.18 points greater than those in their first year (95% confidence interval: 0.36-4.01, p = 0.017). The adjusted differences in scores were 2.22 points greater for those who had prepared a dead body (95% confidence interval: 0.57-3.87, p = 0.008), 2.95 points greater for those who had cared for a dying patient (95% confidence interval: 1.09-4.08, p = 0.002) and 2.03 points greater for those who had cared for a dying relative or friend (95% confidence interval: 0.69-3.37, p = 0.003).
Conclusion: The length of time in education and practical experience of caring for dying individuals are independently associated with positive attitudes towards care of the dying among student nurses.
Keywords: Palliative care; cross-sectional study; education; life experiences; nursing students.
© The Author(s) 2015.