A study of attitudes of nurse aides toward ethnic patients in nursing homes

Terry Tirrito, Fordham University


This study examined the attitudes of nurse aides toward patients of different ethnicities in nursing homes. Since nurse aides provide 90% of direct patient care, it was considered important to study the attitudes and prejudices of these multi-ethnic staff members who care for multi-ethnic elderly patients. A semantic differential scale and a social distance scale were used to assess the attitudes of nurse aides, and a questionnaire was used to gather demographic data and perceptions of nurse aides with respect to the behavior, family relationships and the degree of religiosity of patients from different ethnicities. A sample of 110 nurse aides was drawn from three New York City nursing homes. The semantic differential scale was used to measure attitudes of nurse aides toward patients in six ethnic groups: Chinese, Black, Puerto Rican, Jewish, Italian, and Irish. None of the ethnic patients were rated unfavorably or strongly favorable. The social distance scale measured attitudes toward ethnic groups in general. Results indicated that nurse aides were not prejudiced toward any of the ethnic groups studied. Nurse aides were found to have definite perceptions of the behaviors of different ethnic groups. These findings were statistically significant. A new perspective is needed in social work education, a perspective emphasizing the cultural diversity of clients and an understanding of ethnic heritage. Gerontologists are encouraged to recognize the importance of ethnic life for the elderly and the need to improve delivery of services by appreciation of the impact of ethnicity upon both the workers and clients. Nursing homes must develop training programs for staff which emphasize the influence of ethnocultural differences. From this study a training program for nursing home staff was developed and is offered to improve understanding of ethnic differences and ethnic similarities.

Subject Area

Social work|Nursing

Recommended Citation

Tirrito, Terry, "A study of attitudes of nurse aides toward ethnic patients in nursing homes" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9022883.