Background The attitudes members of the nursing profession hold towards survivors of brain injury may impact on the level of help, and degree of involvement they are willing to have. Given that the manner in which an individual receives their brain injury has been shown to impact on public prejudices, the importance of exploring nursing attitudes to this vulnerable group, and the subsequent impact this may have on the caring role, requires investigation. Objective To investigate the attitudes held by members of the nursing profession towards young male survivors of brain injury whose behaviour either contributed, or did not contribute, to their injury. Design Independent groups design. Setting and participants Ninety trainee and sixty-nine qualified nurses respectively drawn from a university in the south west of England and the emergency, orthopaedic and paediatric Departments of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, UK. Methods Participants were randomly assigned to one of four fictional brain injury scenarios. A young male character was portrayed as sustaining a brain injury as a result of either an aneurysm, or through drug taking, with their behaviour being either a contributory or non-contributory factor. On reading these, participants were asked to complete the prejudicial evaluation scale, the social interaction scale and the helping behaviour scale. Results Analysis of variance showed that qualified nurses held more prejudicial attitudes than student nurses towards survivors of brain injury. Mean scores indicated that individuals seen as contributing towards their injury were likely to experience more prejudice (blame total = 42.35 vs. no blame total = 38.34), less social interaction (blame total = 37.54 vs. no blame total = 41.10), and less helping behaviour (blame total = 21.49 vs. no blame total = 22.34) by both groups. Conclusions Qualified nurses should be mindful of the impact their attitudes and judgements of survivors of brain injury may have on the subsequent care they provide. Greater emphasis on the effects of negative attitudes on patient interactions during training may provide nurses with the understanding to recognise and avoid challenges to their caring role in the future.
ASJC Scopus subject areas