Master's Theses

Date of Award

Fall 2009

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)




Dr. Liane Connelly


Society’s attitudes toward people with disabilities are often based on lack of understanding, fear of the unknown, and stereotypes learned from others (Thompson et al., 2003). The personal attitudes of the nurse influences how they respond to children with disabilities, and this may have an effect on the children’s outcome, as well as their self-image. Negative attitudes toward the disabled may be redirected through education about disability, as well as through contact with persons with disabilities. It is crucial for nurses to be aware of and understand the issues that face disabled children and to be able to act as a positive resource of physical care, advice, and emotional support (Holmes, 1999). The purpose of this investigation was to compare attitudes of nursing students and registered nurses in practice toward disabled children. This study also set out to determine if age of the nurse and an association with a disabled person influenced the attitude of the nurse. The framework for this investigation was based on Travelbee’s Human-to-Human Relationship model, which states that the nurse’s perception of patient influences the quality and quantity of nursing care given to an ill person (Travellbee, 1971). The research design for this investigation was a level II non-experimental design, with a comparative and correlational component Data was collected form 70 baccalaureate nursing students in their senior year and 46 practicing registered nurses working in pediatrics. The survey results are based on the information gathered from the instrument, Scale of Attitudes toward Disabled persons (SADP), developed by Dr. Richard F. Antonak (1981). The SADP measures attitudes toward persons with disabilities as a group. Data was analyzed using the SPSS software. The results of SADP survey revealed that there was no significant relationship between age of the nurse and their attitude score toward disabled persons. Also, no significant difference was noted between senior BSN nursing student’s attitude score toward disabled persons and practicing pediatric RN’s attitude scores toward disabled persons. No significant difference was also found when comparing attitude scores of nurses who had an association with a disabled person and nurses who did not have an association with a disabled person.


Copyright 2009 Lynda Cross


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