Helping motives in late modern society: values and attitudes among nursing students

Rognstad MK, Nortvedt P, Aasland OG. Nursing Ethics 2004; 11 (3): 227-39.

Article in English.

Abstract on Pubmed:

This article reports a follow-up study of Norwegian nursing students entitled ´The helping motive an important goal for choosing nursing education´. It presents and discusses a significant ambiguity within the altruistic helping motive of 301 nursing students in the light of classical and modern virtue ethics. A quantitative longitudinal survey design was used to study socialization and building professional identity. The follow-up study began after respondents had completed more than two-and-a-half years of the three-year educational programme. Data were collected using a questionnaire with closed questions, supplemented by 18 semi-structured, in-depth, audiotaped interviews. A motive such as ´desire for human contact/to help others´ appeared to be highly significant. The research questions employed were: What motivates nursing students at the end of their studies to help other people? What does helping others mean for nursing students? Factor analysis revealed two factors. Factor 1 can be expressed as an altruism factor and factor 2 can be interpreted as an ´acknowledgement-from-the-patient factor´ that in fact indicates an ambiguity within the helping motive itself. Findings from the interviews also reveal ambiguous helping motives. On one hand the students want to be altruistic and on the other they wish to receive positive feedback from patients when giving help. The findings indicate that this positive feedback is essential to the students in order for them to provide altruistic care.