A quantitative exploration of the death anxiety levels of nursing and medical students at the beginning and end of their course

Barnes, Kate (2010) A quantitative exploration of the death anxiety levels of nursing and medical students at the beginning and end of their course. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Abstract

Introduction: This study explores the death anxiety levels of medical and nursing students in their first and final years of study. The majority of all British deaths occur in National Health Service institutions (National statistics 2002) and health professionals are more likely to be exposed to death and the dying individual than other non-healthcare professionals. Care of the dying has been linked with death avoidance, anxiety and professional burnout (Gesser et al 1987, Redinbaugh et al 2003). The importance of understanding how a career in the health profession affects an individuals’ death anxiety is of great importance to support health professionals and mediate the psychological risk associated with care of the dying.

Method: A cross sectional cohort study was undertaken using the revised death anxiety scale (Thorson and Powell 1993) to form a questionnaire. First and final year students enrolled on a medicine or nursing course were asked to participate with a total response of 350 students.

Results: The most significant finding was that medical students had a statistically lower death anxiety than nursing students. Further analysis showed that it was the death anxiety scores of final year students where this difference was observed. It was also found that relevant work experience significantly lowered death anxiety.

Discussion: It was suggested that because medical students had more relevant work experience this could account for their lower levels of death anxiety than the nursing students. The view that experience with care of the dying and death lowers death anxiety has been presented within the literature (Chen et al 2006, Servaty et al 1996) and this study supports that view. It has also been suggested that length of the medicine course could have caused this difference observed, however age and gender have been shown within this sample to have no effect upon death anxiety. Further research is needed to analyse this relationship in more detail which could allow for strategies to be implemented within a nursing course to help lower nursing students death anxiety. This exploration has given rise to many new questions regarding death anxiety and medical and nursing students, which will need to be investigated to establish more conclusive results and provide stronger rationale for the implementation of new education techniques aimed to lower death anxiety scores of nursing students.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2011 09:54
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2016 14:03
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/23615

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