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Attitudes of registered nurses towards consumer rights and nursing independence Green, Florence Grace

Abstract

This study investigated the possibility that registered nurses, working directly with the patient, may hold attitudes towards consumer rights and nursing independence which are different from those in the literature and those of nurse leaders and activists which are reflected in the resolutions on consumer rights passed at the Annual Meeting of the Registered Nurses' Association of British Columbia in 1976. The Pankratz and Pankratz (1974) Attitude Scale, consisting of 47 statements, divided into three clusters: 1) Nursing Autonomy and Advocacy; 2) Patient Rights; and 3) Rejection of Traditional Role Limitations was administered by mail to a random sample of registered nurses who were members of one of the Districts of the Registered Nurses' Association of British Columbia, Canada. The sample was stratified by educational level and 99.1 percent of 425 subjects were contacted by telephone prior to the delivery of the questionnaire. A total of 392 questionnaires (92.23 percent of the complete sample) was returned. Analysis of variance techniques were used to test the difference between the means when the three clusters in the Attitude Scale (Pankratz and Pankratz 1974) were analyzed by the six independent variables—administrative position, working hours, experience, work setting, age and education. Results indicated that nurses in administrative positions, those with advanced education and those who work in educational or community health settings, are more likely to score highly on the Pankratz and Pankratz (1974) Attitude Scale, than are nurses who have not completed a university degree and who work in a hospital setting as staff nurses. The attitudes expressed suggest that nurses are motivated to accept the patient as a participating member of the health care team but they need support to assume the risks associated with a self-image incorporating professional autonomy and interdependence. Conclusions reached were that the mean of the total sample, on all three clusters, was sufficiently high to encourage nurse leaders to provide assertive leadership on the issues of consumer rights in health care, informed access to information by the consumer and nursing autonomy. Such leadership would develop role models of consumer advocacy with which staff nurses could identify. It is suggested that by increasing, wherever practical, the patient's participation in decision making and in his own care, a more professional and more consumer oriented staff nurse role could evolve.

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