The effect of curriculum on the attitudes of nursing students toward disability.

Societal attitudes toward people with differing abilities are often based on a lack of understanding, fear of the unknown, and stereotypes learned from others. Nursing students enter their educational programs with similar attitudes and experiences. Attitudes of nurses are key to how they respond toward individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The nurses’ attitudes affect the individual client’s understanding of the disability and his or her self-concept as he or she adjusts to major life changes. The purpose of this descriptive study was to identify whether a change in curriculum and experience had an effect on nursing student attitudes. Using the Attitudes Toward Disabled Persons (ATDP) Scale, a pre-post study of 42 nursing students’ attitudes toward individuals with disabilities was conducted. Tests were administered as the students entered their senior year and took the chronic illness course, and again at the completion of the senior year. The students’ attitudes were significantly more positive at the completion of their senior year. The findings suggest that education about, and experience with, individuals with disabilities positively affect the attitudes of nursing students toward individuals with disabilities.