Most nurses have personal concerns about their vulnerability to AIDS, but the majority are willing to ensure that patients are provided with quality care, according to a Brigham Young University study.
The study, entitled "Nurses Speak Out on AIDS," is an analysis of a survey given to nurses from Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming, states that are not considered high-risk AIDS areas. The study was presented on campus Thursday at the Fourteenth Annual Nursing Research Conference.While half of the 567 registered nurses surveyed said they had no experience with AIDS patients, only 10 percent said they would quit their job rather than care for the patients.
"There is a great deal of fear, but our regional background says we should go ahead and take care of AIDS patients in spite of the personal or family risks," said Millene Murphy, chair of the nursing research committee.
She said the BYU survey shows that area nurses have much the same concerns as those surveyed nationwide. But there are also some interesting regional aspects to the study.
"The fear model keeps some nurses from caring for AIDS patients, she said. "But we did not find that in our study."
The study also points out that nurses' attitudes are inconsistent with their knowledge, she said. Most respondents are knowledgable and use professional sources of information. But many times they respond to the AIDS diagnosis through avoidance, exaggerated barriers and verbal expression of fears.
Of those surveyed, 28 percent felt that AIDS patients should be isolated from the general public, which was less than national study statistics. Sixty-three percent felt more sympathy for AIDS patients that are not homosexuals and 36 percent felt people with AIDS were responsible for their own illness.
At the same time 17 percent said they would do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on an AIDS victim even if there were no protection devices available.
As for sex education, 99 percent said adolescents should be educated with factual information about AIDS including routes of transmission.
Murphy said this interested BYU researchers because in the survey area many schools are not giving out AIDS information. Ninety-two percent felt that abstinence from sexual intercourse should be the first method of prevention taught to adolescents, but 60 percent say teaching "safe sex" is the better alternative.
Most nurses say they protect themselves from AIDS by hand washing or by avoiding direct contact with blood, saliva and semen. Seventy percent said they wear gloves anytime body fluids are handled.