Are Spanish nursing students prepared to face new environmental challenges?

In recent years, scientific evidence has shown that climate change is a source of health problems of massive dimensions. Currently, more than 110,000 chemical compounds pollute natural ecosystems, both locally and globally. These substances pollute the soil, the food, the water and the air. The pediatric population is the most vulnerable to exposure to environmental risk factors due to anatomophysiological immaturity and psychosocial dependence.

Nurses are in a strategic and privileged position to detect families at risk. Nurses take care of children’s illnesses, educate parents and family members, raise awareness of health, and act as trusted professionals to successfully advocate for and support changes in health policy. Universities play a leading role in the development of educational approaches to solving problems related to sustainable development.

In order to determine attitudes, knowledge, and skills related to children’s environmental health in undergraduate nursing students, a study was conducted by members of this research group.

A sample of 2,462 undergraduate nursing students was taken from classes at eight Spanish universities: Almería, Cantabria, Córdoba, Granada, Jaén, Lleida, Málaga and Sevilla. Out of the total 2,462 students in the sample, 2,155 had a good attitude toward addressing children’s environmental health problems, 501 had good knowledge, and 1,162 had good skills. Students who had attended a session on sustainability more than three months prior had a better attitude (9.93%), knowledge (11.16%), and skills (3.82%). And second course students and males had better environmental competency.

Undergraduate nursing students have good attitudes; however, they lack knowledge and skills. There is a need to include children’s environmental health in nursing curricula.

Full text available in: Álvarez-García, C., Álvarez-Nieto, C., Sanz-Martos, S., Puente-Fernández, D., López-Leiva, I., Gutiérrez-Puertas, L., López-Medina, I. M. Undergraduate nursing students’ attitudes, knowledge and skills of children´s environmental health. J Nurs Educ. 2019; 58 (7):401-408.

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