Including sustainability issues in nurse education: A comparative study of first year student nurses' attitudes in four European countries

Janet Richardson*, Thomas Heidenreich , Carmen Álvarez-Nieto , F Fasseur , Jane Grose , N Huss, Maud Huynen, IM López-Medina , Schweizer A

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    INTRODUCTION: Education in sustainable development is a goal recognised by a large number of countries and a vital concept in healthcare. It is therefore important that nurse education incorporates elements of sustainable development into nursing education curricula. However, there is limited research on student nurses' attitudes towards sustainability and no comparison of attitudes towards sustainability and its inclusion in the nursing curriculum across Europe.
    AIM: This project aims to assess student nurses' attitudes towards sustainability, its relevance to nursing and its inclusion in the nursing curricula. 1. To assess base-line attitudes at the start of nursing and midwifery training; 2. To compare sustainability awareness between students participating in training in a number of European universities.
    DESIGN: A comparative survey design using the Sustainability Attitudes in Nursing Survey (SANS_2) questionnaire.
    SETTINGS: Nursing classes of Universities and Nursing Schools in four European countries were investigated using a questionnaire consisting of five sustainability-related items.
    PARTICIPANTS: 916 nursing students (UK: 450, Germany: 196, Spain: 124, Switzerland: 146).
    DATA ANALYSIS: Standard descriptive and inferential statistical methods were used to establish psychometric quality (Principal Components Analysis, Cronbach's alpha, Pearson correlations) and compare student nurses from the four countries.
    RESULTS: The reliability of SANS_2 was good (Cronbach's alpha=.82) and the five items loaded on a single factor which explained 58% of variance. ANOVA of the SANS_2 total score showed significant differences between countries with German nursing students showing more sustainability awareness than students from the UK and Spain.
    CONCLUSIONS: SANS_2 is a reliable instrument to assess nursing students' sustainability awareness; there are significant differences in sustainability awareness of students of different European countries. Limitations of the study include non-random sampling, possible method effects and social desirability effects.
    RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Sustainability will become increasingly important in clinical practice; greater knowledge about the attitudes of nurses towards sustainability can support the development and testing of sustainability-focused teaching and learning materials.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15-20
    Number of pages6
    JournalNurse Education Today
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


    • Attitudes
    • Climate change
    • Education
    • HEALTH
    • Nurse education
    • Social norms
    • Sustainability

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