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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 318-319  

Nurses and Alzheimer's disease: A holistic perspective

1 Vice-Principal and HOD, Department of Community Health Nursing, Rayat-Bahra College of Nursing, Mohali, Punjab, India
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Gian Sagar College of Nursing, Gian Sagar Educational and Charitable Trust, Patiala, Punjab, India
3 Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Campus Box, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA

Date of Web Publication24-Jan-2013

Correspondence Address:
Radha Saini
Vice-Principal and HOD, Department of Community Health Nursing, Rayat-Bahra College of Nursing, Vill. Soharaun, Mohali-140104, Punjab
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-557X.106424

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How to cite this article:
Saini R, Alagh P, Carpenter B. Nurses and Alzheimer's disease: A holistic perspective. Indian J Public Health 2012;56:318-9

How to cite this URL:
Saini R, Alagh P, Carpenter B. Nurses and Alzheimer's disease: A holistic perspective. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Sep 29];56:318-9. Available from:


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, there are currently about 18 million people worldwide with AD. This figure is projected to nearly double by 2025 to 34 million. Currently, more than 50% of people with AD live in developing countries and by 2025, this will be over 70%. [1]

The clinical experiences of nursing students (NSs) regarding their knowledge and attitudes toward caring for patients with AD are important. The complexities in caring for patients with AD, in conjunction with preexisting ageist attitudes, can result in nursing students having a negative experience in their clinical practice. [2] Negative attitudes toward patients with AD also may lead to less than ideal care for those patients. NSs hold more negative attitudes toward elderly patients with AD than toward elderly patients in general. [3] Investigations of the attitudes of NSs toward patients with AD indicate that the students experience several emotions, such as frustration, sadness, fear, and empathy in their clinical practice. [4] The knowledge and attitudes of supervising nurses (SNs) toward the care of patients with AD are also important, for the patients as well as for NSs learning to care for them. [5] As a matter of fact, the nursing teachers play a pivotal role in empowering the young nursing graduates and thereby influencing the attitudes and practices of staff nurses and community health nurses working in urban and rural areas of India.

A standardized AD knowledge scale (ADKS) (Carpenter et al., [6] ) was used to assess the knowledge of nursing teachers regarding AD. These nursing teachers were part of the annual meeting of "nursing quality improvement services" organized by a local nongovernment organization (NGO) in Patiala District, Punjab, India in October 2011. Out of all 106 nurses, 75 consented to be part of this study.

Descriptive statistics were calculated to evaluate performance on the ADKS. Group comparisons were made with t tests. Results indicated that 70.7% of nursing teachers had average knowledge (i.e., scored 50-80% correct on the ADKS). Meanwhile, 26.7% of nursing teachers had below average knowledge (scores below 50%), and only 2.7% had good knowledge (scores > 80%). Demographic variables (i.e., age, educational qualification, work experience, highest qualification obtained from sector, current area of supervision, and in-service education obtained) were not significantly related to AD knowledge (P > 0.05)

Given the important role that nurses play in providing care to people with AD, more education is needed to help nurses understand the disease. Educating and sensitizing the nursing teachers regarding AD will lead to development of positive attitudes and healthy practices by student nurses toward geriatric care. This will furthermore lead to significant decrease in the rising cases of geriatric neglect, abuse, handicaps in our society as a result of apathetic nursing care. Due to the heavy demand in the future, health planners, and policy makers of India must focus on a "train the trainer" approach for training nursing teachers regarding AD and related nursing care so as to enable the nurses to work successfully with these patients at a mass level.

   References Top

1.World Health Organisation: Mental Health and Substance Abuse: Facts and Figures: Alzheimer's disease: The Brain Killer. Regional office of South East Asia. Available from: [Last accessed on 2011 Oct 15].  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Robinson A, Cubit K. Caring for older people with dementia in residential care: Nursing students' experiences. J Adv Nurs 2007;59:255-63.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Kim JH. Effects of gerontological nursing practicum on attitudes toward elders with dementia and general elders among Korean nursing students. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi 2006;36:645-51.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Beck CT. Nursing students' experiences caring for cognitively impaired elderly people. J Adv Nurs 1996;23:992-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Skaalvik MW, Normann HK, Henriksen N. Student experiences in learning person-centred care of patients with Alzheimer's disease as perceived by nursing students and supervising nurses. J Clin Nurs 2010;19:2639-48.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Carpenter BD, Balsis S, Otilingam PG, Hanson PK, Gatz M. The Alzheimer's Disease Knowledge Scale: Development and psychometric properties. Gerontologist 2009;49:236-47.  Back to cited text no. 6

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