The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2002 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

PERCEIVED NEEDS OF RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS AND RESPIRATORY CARE MANAGERS REGARDING GERIATRIC EDUCATION COMPONENTS.

Helen M. Sorenson, MA, RRT. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX.

Background: Respiratory therapists (RTs) are increasingly being called upon to care for older patients in a variety of settings. While some respiratory care programs offer gerontology courses, there is currently no mandate to include geriatrics in respiratory care educational programs. The purpose of this study was to determine what aspects of geriatric education are perceived to be most needed by RTs and respiratory care managers (RCMs).

Method: A multidimensional survey instrument was developed to measure the perceived needs of RTs and RCMs for geriatric education. Demographics collected included age, gender, length of employment in years and size of community where employed. 23 variables, in the form of brief statements were included in the survey, using a 5-point Likert scale, to determine which educational components RTs and RCMs considered as being most and least important. The surveys were mailed to 400 RCPs in Nebraska, randomly selected from a list of 1,055 licensed RCPs supplied by the Nebraska State Board of Health, Bureau of Examining Boards. 141(35%) complete surveys were returned. The frequency of responses, means and standard deviation were calculated on the collected data. The Pearson Correlation coefficient was used to describe the relationship between the variables.

Results: Knowing how DNR orders relate to respiratory care, how aging affects lungs and how to administer palliative care ranked highest in the survey. RTs and RCMs ranked fielding questions about sex, discussing patient?s nutritional needs and counseling patients about end-of-life care the lowest. There was a small but statistically significant (p <0.05) correlation between age and understanding cultural norms (r=0.18) the benefits of physical activity(r=0.17) and the importance of patient?s rights(r=0.30); between length of employment and knowing baseline body temperature (r= -.17) and understanding drug pharmacokinetics (r= -.17); and between size of community and understanding cultural norms(r=0.17).

Conclusion: This study provides a foundation for determining what geriatric education components are deemed most needed by RTs and RCMs. The data generated from this study may be used as a guide for those electing to insert geriatrics into the curriculum of their respiratory care programs.

OF-02-075

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