Impact of the Geriatric Medication Game® on nursing students' empathy and attitudes toward older adults

Philip Darbyshire

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    74 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Nurses should be well-prepared to improve and address health-related needs of older adults, but students may have difficulty understanding and empathizing, as they may not yet have personally experienced aging-related challenges. Simulation games can be used to help students understand the experiences of others, but limited information is available on the impact of simulation experiences on student empathy. Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the impact of participation in an aging simulation game on nursing students' empathy and attitudes toward older adults as well as their understanding of patients' experiences in the healthcare system. Design: This study used a quasi-experimental, pretest-posttest design. Setting: A school of nursing in the Midwestern United States. Participants: The convenience sample included 58 sophomore-level baccalaureate nursing students. Methods: Students played the role of an older adult during a 3-hour laboratory aging simulation game, the Geriatric Medication Game® (GMG). Students completed the (1) Kiersma-Chen Empathy Scale (KCES, 15 items, 7-point Likert-type), (2) Jefferson Scale of Empathy-Health Professions Students (JSE-HPS, 20 items, 7-point Likert-type), and (3) Aging Simulation Experience Survey (13 items, 7-point Likert-type) pre- and post-game to assess study objectives. Descriptive statistics and paired t-tests were performed in SPSS v.21.0, as the data were normally distributed. Results: Students' empathy (. N=. 58) toward older adults significantly improved overall (KCES p=. 0.015, JSE-HPS p<. 0.001). Improvements also were seen on seven out of 13 questions related to attitudes and healthcare understanding (. p<. 0.05). In the post-test, students agreed that they experienced frustration and impatience during the GMG. Conclusions: Students may not be aware of older adults' feelings and experiences prior to experiencing aging-related changes themselves. Simulation activities, such as the GMG, can be a useful mechanism for addressing empathy and caring during student education.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38-43
    Number of pages6
    JournalNurse Education Today
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


    • Attitude
    • Empathy
    • Geriatrics
    • Nursing student


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