The Theory of Planned Behaviour was tested in a study for its ability to predict intention to behave in specific ways towards older patients. There were 172 subjects from 3 Scottish universities, Napier, Edinburgh and Abertay Dundee. The results gained from a questionnaire suggest that the Theory of Planned behaviour can be used to predict behavioural intentions of nurses when working with older patients. Nurses' intention to behave was predicted by their attitudes mostly, perceived behavioural control also carried a significant beta weight although social norms were found to be non significant. The underlying beliefs of attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural controls were also investigated in terms of expectancy value models. Nurses with positive attitudes towards older patients were found to hold patient orientated values, and job satisfaction, more important than other relevant values. Nurses are also more motivated to comply with senior staff that may share their positive attitudes also. One consequence of the present findings is that greater levels of support by senior staff and ways of increasing job satisfaction will improve the levels of care and treatment for older patients.
Last year, for the first time ever, the developed countries of the world had more people aged 60 and over than youths aged 14 and under. For the world as a whole, the same will be true by the year 2043. The percentage proportion of older people in Western Europe is predicted to increase by 14.8%, 8.8 in Japan and 2.7% in the U.S.(U.S Census bureau). Two major forces drive the shift in age distribution. First, birth rates are declining in most parts of the world, but especially in the industrialized nations. and second, life expectancy is increasing almost everywhere. The U.K is a prime example of this phenomenon. In 1999 16 % of the population was 65 and over (DOH 1999). With the advent of new medicine and treatment for more and more illnesses and diseases the trend will increase. The implications of a human population that is both growing and aging are numerous and worrying. Advances in medical science, nutrition and fitness, and even bioengineering point to the day when many human beings will have the option of living well past the age of 100 (CSIS global initiative 99). The elderly have been for a long time the greatest users of healthcare (Lefebre et al. 1979). It can be inferred that this demand will continue to rise as the elderly population does. Nearly half of the NHS expenditure in 1999 was spent on the care of the over 65 this equates to 5.21 billion pounds(DOH 1999). From hospital beds to prescriptions the elderly were responsible for the greater share of the cost. In the front line of healthcare are nurses, who play a primary role in providing support and provision The perception and attitudes of these primary caregivers will greatly affect the response to the growing problem. It has previously been suggested that these caring services will be stretched to breaking point in future (Martin et al. 1988; Redfern, 1991). Past research on attitudes of nurses towards the elderly has looked at the many different facets of primary nursing care of the elderly. At one end of the spectrum Robb (1967) highlighted examples of cruelty and abuse within the care of the elderly. Similarly in the USA Stannard (1973) showed that institutionalised cruelty existed on both sides of the Atlantic. Both papers are not con but one only needs to look in the recent press to see examples of systematic abuse and negative attitudes. Harold Shipman was convicted of murdering 15 elderly patients in his care, similarly a nurse was convicted of the murder of 3 elderly patients. Examples such as these, taken with evidence of an increasing elderly population, show that the need to understand the polarity...