The global burden of neurological disorders is increasing. In Ireland, an estimated 750,000 people are living with a neurological disease. A review of the literature found that although nurses in specialist neurological areas found neurological nursing interesting, lack of knowledge, experience and environmental issues lead to feelings of stress, frustration and exhaustion. The global shortage of neuroscience nurses suggested the need for further study on this topic.
The aim of this study was to describe nursesí knowledge and perceptions of neurology and neurological nursing.
A descriptive quantitative design was used. Data were collected using an adapted version of a questionnaire on doctorsí knowledge of neurology (one ref). Data were collected from a convenience sample of nurses (n=72) working in general medicine. Statistical Package for Social sciences (SPSS) was used for data analysis.
While most nurses found neurological nursing interesting, more than half reported that it was difficult and indicated that they perceived their knowledge to be moderate. Findings indicated that neuro-anatomy and physiology, the psychological demands of neurological nursing, workload and the work environment were perceived to be major contributing factors for this perceived difficulty. Limited access to education was also reported as a major contributing factor.
The study provides insight into the contributing factors of nursesí perceived difficulties with neurology and neurological nursing. These findings will be of interest to nurse managers and educators involved in recruiting and preparing nurses to work in this specialist area of nursing.