2004 Volume 16 Issue 1 Pages 49-55
PURPOSE: To demonstrate attitudes of health science students towards clients with cancer (ATC). The objective was three-fold: 1) to describe health science students' ATC, 2) to compare ATC amongst health science students according to their professional discipline, academic seniority and gender, 3) to note whether their ATC differed according to: a) their experience with cancer clients during clinical placement; and/or b) their acquired perception through their class-work of the need for psychological support for cancer clients. RELEVANCE: To show how important a student's prior classroom instruction and positive experience in clinical placement is to the establishment of an empathic attitude to clients with cancer. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 860 students participated from five professional disciplines of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Kanazawa, Japan. Five hundred and sixty-eight responded appropriately with the rate of response being 66 per cent. METHOD: The ATC scale consisted of 30 statements with six responses (+3, +2, +1, -1, -2, -3) for each statement. Two additional questions were provided on the questionnaire: a) whether or not a need for psychological support for such clients was perceived necessary as was instructed through their class-work; and b) students' experience with cancer clients during clinical placements. ANALYSIS: Descriptive analysis of student demographics, the Fisher's PLSD post-hoc test followed by multiple comparisons and the Mann-Whitney U test to determine any statistically significant difference in the ATC scores. RESULTS: Student nurses scored significantly high on the ATC scale, followed by laboratory science, physiotherapy, radiological technology and occupational therapy students. It was also found that all fourth year students scored significantly high on the ATC scale. The student nurses showed that they dealt with significantly large numbers of cancer clients during their clinical placements. The students who were affirmative to the two additional questions were found to have significantly higher ATC scores than those who were negative. CONCLUSION: Senior students' ATC was found to be more positive. Student nurses' approach to cancer clients was on a more person-to-person basis. Having experience alone with cancer clients was not sufficient to promote a positive ATC, but additional structured classroom instruction was found to play a necessary role in ATC.