Section 47
Chapter 46,219

Health care professionals' knowledge about AIDS, prejudice and attitudes towards AIDS

Schlebusch, L.; Bedford, R.; Bosch, B.A.; Du Preez, M.R.

South African Journal of Psychology 21(4): 247-254


ISSN/ISBN: 0081-2463
PMID: 12346146
DOI: 10.1177/008124639102100408
Accession: 046218549

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The study was conducted in a large university-affiliated teaching general hospital, drawing upon the professional health care staff as subjects. 80 subjects were issued questionnaires, 74 (92.5%) of whom returned completed questionnaires. Of these 43 (58.1%) were nursing sisters and 31 (41.9%) were medical doctors; 48 (64.9%) were female and 26 (35.1%) were male; 61 (82.4%) were White, 7 (9.5%) were Colored, 4 (5.4%) were Indian, and 2 (2.7%) were Black. The age range was 22-64 years (X = 38 years). The questionnaire intended to measure: knowledge about AIDS; attitudes toward AIDS; attitudes toward homosexuality; and attitudes toward the sexuality of Black people. The final knowledge scale required respondents to choose between options of right/wrong or true/false. The attitudes were assessed on a 5-point Likert Scale (1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree). The range of scores obtained in the knowledge section was from 22% to 100% correct (the mean was 77%). The results indicated a high level of knowledge of AIDS within the group. Items answered with the lowest degree of accuracy included dates, statistics, and specific technical aspects. Some respondents apparently failed to differentiate between HIV infection and full-blown AIDS. Negative attitudes (especially with regard to AIDS patients' rights) were evident. 50.0% of subjects felt that homosexuality is a psychological disorder, and 52.7% agreed that it is immoral. Attitudes to homosexuality reflected general reluctance to comprehend the normality of these people as well as an ambivalence about their life-styles. In response to statements directly relating homosexuality to AIDS, certain respondents did believe in such a direct causal link. Regarding attitudes to the sexuality of Blacks, certain statements measured the degree of blame attached to Black people for the spread of HIV disease. Knowledge about AIDS correlated significantly with attitudes towards the disease, but this correlation was the weakest significant correlation elicited (p 0.05).

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