Effects of a service‐learning experience on health‐related students’ attitudes toward the homeless [2020]

A community engagement service‐learning experience was planned to provide health services for the homeless during a local 1‐day event. The objectives were to (a) determine the feasibility of a service‐learning experience, and to (b) examine the effects on students’ attitudes toward persons experiencing homelessness.

A quasi‐experimental, institutional review board approved study, including health‐related students enrolled in a local university or community college, was planned. The attitudes toward the homeless survey was administered before and after participation in the service‐learning experience. Qualitative data were through student reflections of the experience.

Participants (n = 106) completed a pre and post questionnaire and a self‐reflection. A statistically significant t(26) = −2.2, p = .04 change in attitudes toward the homeless were found. Three themes were revealed from the reflections: inherent bias, individualized care, and the societal context of people experiencing homelessness.

Both quantitative and qualitative findings may help students reflect on preconceived stereotypes; therefore, affecting their attitudes toward the homelessness.

Donna J. Copeland DNP, RN, NE‐BC, CPN, CPON, AE‐C Pam Johnson DNP, RN Bridget Moore DNP, MBA, RNC, NEA‐BC
Nursing Forum, 22 September 2020