AIM: This paper is a report of a study to determine the nursing students' perceptions of the importance of caring behaviours.
BACKGROUND: Caring has been considered as the essence of nursing. It is believed that caring enhances patients' health and well-being and facilitates health promotion. Nursing education has an important role in educating the nurses with adequate caring abilities.
METHOD: Ninety nursing students (response rate 75%) responded to a questionnaire consisting of 55 caring behaviours adapted from items on Caring Assessment Questionnaire (Care-Q). Behaviours were ranked on a 5-point Likert-type scale. The caring behaviours were categorized in seven subscales: 'accessibles', 'monitors and follows through', 'explains and facilitates', 'comforts', 'anticipates', 'trusting relationship' and 'spiritual care'. Data were collected in Iran in 2003.
FINDINGS: The students perceived 'monitors and follows through' (mean = 4.33, SD = 0.60) as the most and 'trusting relationship' (mean = 3.70, SD = 0.62) as the least important subscales. 'To give patient's treatments and medications on time' and 'to do voluntarily little things...' were the most and least important caring behaviours, respectively. 'Explains and facilitates' statistically and significantly correlated with age (r = 0.31, P = 0.003) and programme year (r = 0.28, P = 0.025). Gender had no statistically significant influence on students' perceptions of caring behaviours.
CONCLUSION: Further research is needed, using longitudinal designs, to explore nursing students' perceptions of caring behaviours in different cultures, as well as evaluation studies of innovations in curriculum and teaching methods to improve learning in relation to cultural competence and caring concepts.
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