Date of Award

Spring 1986

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bogenschild, Erika G.

Second Advisor

Steeves, Frank L.

Third Advisor

Dupuis, A.


Before this study, no definition of the status of physical assessment skills content existed in the two entry-level curricula in nursing and in the hospitals' expectations of the nurses they employed. This study is a nationwide survey of randomly sampled baccalaureate and associate degree nursing schools and hospitals. The survey questioned (1) the importance of the physical assessment skills in the curricula and in the hospitals, and (2) the use of these skills as provided by the schools or expected by the hospitals. The three respondent groups were further divided into the four regions designated by the National League for Nursing. A mailing of 706 yielded an N of 279. A test of a sample of the nonrespondents showed no significant differences from the respondents. Using Likert-type scales, the survey tool obtained responses to 215 items regarding the importance and the use of the physical assessment skills. The 215 items were divided into 11 categories. Frequencies for the 215 items were obtained using SPSS-X. Frequencies were then collapsed into category means. A multiple analysis of variance was done on the category means using BMDP. Analysis showed the following: (1) No differences were found among the regions. (2) Differences were found among the groups as follows: (a) Baccalaureate programs attribute greater importance to, and provided greater amounts of practice in, every category of physical assessment skills than did the associate degree programs. (b) Hospitals attributed lower importance to, and expected less practice for, each category of physical assessment skills than did either the baccalaureate or the associate programs. Although the groups differ among themselves, each group uses physical assessment skills essentially in keeping with the importance it attributes to them. While the means of each category suggest that all of the groups regard the 11 categories as desirable to the area of physical assessment, baccalaureate programs in particular consider them essential. The study provides substantive information about the physical assessment curriculum in schools of nursing. Further research is indicated in areas other than hospitals, such as public health agencies and primary health-care settings. Also desirable would be surveys of student perception regarding these skills.



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