The impact of ageing simulation education on qualified acute care nurses' empathy towards older people: A mixed-methods study

Publication Name

Journal of Clinical Nursing


Aims and Objectives: To evaluate the influence of an ageing simulation intervention on qualified acute care nurses' empathy towards older people. Background: Life expectancy is increasing globally with an increased incidence of older people accessing healthcare services. As such, it is essential for qualified nurses within hospital settings to connect with older people by establishing healthful relationships. Empathy is an essential component of healthful nurse-patient relationships. Fortunately, empathy can be taught through education. Design: A convergent mixed-methods design was utilised. Methods: Nurses (N = 95) undertook an 8-hour ageing simulation intervention. Data were collected from April 2019 to May 2020 across three time points: before the intervention (T0); immediately after (T1) and at three months follow-up (T2). A mix of convenience (intervention) and purposeful (follow-up) sampling techniques were utilised. Quantitative data were collected via the Interpersonal Reactivity Index survey (n = 86) and analysed using repeat measures ANOVA to compare mean scores across time points. Qualitative data were collected via debriefing discussions (N = 95) and focus groups (n = 38), and analysed using a systematic thematic analysis method. Data convergence occurred during the interpretation phase. Study reported with the TREND checklist. Results: Primarily, when quantitative and qualitative findings were merged they confirmed each others' empathy outcomes. Quantitative results showed a statistically significant increase in affective and cognitive empathy levels among nurses post-intervention. Qualitative findings expanded on quantitative results and revealed an increase in nurses' affective, cognitive and behavioural empathy represented in themes ‘enhancing my empathy’, ‘impact of ageing’, ‘from self to others’ and ‘person-centred moments’. Conclusions: This study adds empirical evidence how a mixed-methods design can be used to evaluate the influence of an ageing simulation intervention on nurses' empathy levels. Relevance to clinical practice: Ageing simulation interventions are a suitable experiential educational approach to improve acute care nurses' affective, cognitive and behavioural empathy towards older people.

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Funding Sponsor

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District



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