ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to review the attitude of nursing students towards people with disabilities in the western world and compare this with the pilot study from Africa for possibility of cultural differences and demographical variables.

A systematic review of the previous studies were observed (n=6).The pilot study was conducted with 60 students in Ghana. A questionnaire (Interaction with Disabled Person Scale) was filled out by the students and statistical analysis; frequency, percentage, means and standard deviation were measured.

The findings revealed that the students still had negative attitude towards people with disabilities even in a different cultural background (74.76 ± 11.22). In the pilot study, no significant difference was found in age, gender. Slight different in educational level but significant differences in contact with people with disabilities, how often are they in contact and to whom do they have contact.

The study showed that there is existence of negative attitude among the nursing students regardless of cultural background. Further studies should be carried out on this and quick intervention should be put in place to improve the students’ attitude to meet up with the continuous growing in the number disabled people.

1. INTRODUCTION

Today, intellectually, physically, or emotionally disabled individuals comprise a significant portion of the world population (Sen & Yurtsever 2007, 238). Of the world’s population of nearly 6.5 billion in 2004, 18.6 million (2.9%) were severely disabled and another 79.7 million (12.4%) had moderate longterm disability. Disability prevalences rise strongly with age. (WHO 2004, 33.)

The average global prevalence of moderate and severe disability ranges from 5% in children aged 0–14 years, to 15% in adults aged 15–59 years, and 46% in adults aged 60 years and older. At all ages, both moderate and severe levels of disability are higher in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries; they are also higher in Africa than in other low- and middle-income countries .Older people make up a greater proportion of the population in high-income countries, but have lower levels of disability than their counterparts in low- and middle-income countries. Disability is also more common among children in the low- and middle-income countries. Moderate disability rates are similar for males and females in high-income countries, but females have somewhat higher rates of severe disability. In low- and middle income countries, male and female disability rates are similar, although females aged 15–59 years tend to have higher levels of moderate disability in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Pacific. (WHO 2004, 34-35.)

Surveys conducted in all EU member states have shown that about 16% of the population aged 16-64 has a long standing health problem or disability and that 3.4% has severe health problem. (United States Agency for International Development 2009.) Biritwum et al., (2001) also reported that prevalence of disabilities is increasing with age in Ghana.

As a result of this, health care professionals are greatly needed to provide services for this growing number of disabled people. A Call to Action was launched in US to improve the health and wellness status of men,women,and children with disabilities (Smeltzer 2007,189) .

Many have reported negative experiences in their interactions with health care providers from all health professions. Collectively, the nursing profession has been silent in its response to this call. (Smeltzer 2007,189.)

Mantzious et al., (2002,1) complained in Greece ,of communication problems and poor relationships with health professionals, delays in detection and treatment, insufficient information, guidance and support, inadequate specialized holistic care and lack of home care services.

To save the situation, more knowledge is needed about the current status of attitude of future nurses and factors influencing these attitudes. It has been observed that this area is avoided by nursing professionals because of their negative attitude toward people with disabilities (Johnston & Dixon 2006, 1).

This bachelor thesis review the current behavior of the nursing students and what factors mostly influence their attitude towards disabled people. The review also involve societal attitudes’ towards individuals with disabilities, attitudes of other health professional students and health care professionals towards individuals with disabilities. However, a pilot study was conducted to test for cultural influence on the attitude with the nursing students (N=60) in Ghana.

This study is very important in the sense that, the results will give information on the status of students’ attitude towards people with disabilities. Result’s will also enlighten the educators, health professionals, counsellors and work practice employers to design programs that will improve the attitude of students toward people with disabilities.