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Knowledge of and attitudes towards assisting patients with dementia during mealtime among nursing staff in acute care settings: A cross-sectional study

      Abstract

      Background

      Mealtime difficulties are exacerbated in acute care settings, which further complicate health issues in people with dementia (PWD). Understanding staff knowledge and attitudes is crucial for providing better care for PWD in nursing home settings. However, little is known about the knowledge and attitudes of acute care staff in assisting dementia patients during mealtimes.

      Aim

      To explore the knowledge and attitudes of acute care staff in assisting dementia patients during mealtimes.

      Methods

      We conducted a cross-sectional study between August and December 2020 at three acute care hospitals in Illawarra region, New South Wales, Australia. Surveys were distributed to nursing staff including registered nurses, enrolled nurses, and nurse assistants, who worked in geriatric wards. Medical practitioners and casual staff were excluded from the survey. Demographics, knowledge, attitudes, and intentions towards mealtime assistance of PWD were included in the survey.

      Findings

      A higher level of knowledge in mealtime assistance of PWD was found to be associated with positive attitudes towards mealtime assistance of PWD (r = 0.464, p < 0.001). No differences were found between educational levels and knowledge and attitudes of mealtime assistance for PWD.

      Discussion

      The need for mealtime assistance training to enhance knowledge of and attitudes towards assisting PWD during mealtimes is highlighted and needs more attention. Future studies could consider including a simulation training program and adopting a mealtime engagement scale to provide training and assess changes in nursing staff knowledge of and attitudes towards mealtime assistance for PWD in acute care settings.

      Conclusions

      The study findings can inform future research in raising awareness of the need for and developing mealtime assistance training programs for nursing staff in acute care settings.

      Keywords

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