Background: The Japanese have had three experiences of radiation disasters: the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. The former two experiences have been covered in compulsory education programs. In light of these incidents, a strong fear of radiation has pervaded people of several generations. In such a situation, the role of nurses is important. When nurses treat residents, their attitudes change depending on how they understand and feel about radiation. The foundations of these attitudes are formed through student education. Hence, it is necessary to explore nursing students' understanding and risk perception of radiation, and the nature of radiation education received.
Objectives: To assess the levels of understanding and risk perception of nursing students regarding radiation.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Methods: A questionnaire survey was administered to all students (74 first-year, 79 second-year, 65 third-year, and 69 fourth-year students) in the nursing department of a Japanese national university. The response rate was 84%. Respondents were asked to rate their level of understanding of 50 phrases chosen from two supplementary texts about radiation for elementary school students and for middle and high school students, prepared by the Japanese Ministry. Further, they were asked to rate their risk perception for 30 events, and to answer six questions about radiation.
Results: It was found that knowledge about radiation among Japanese nursing students was poor, because sufficient radiation education had not been provided. Hence, they displayed a greater fear of X-rays as compared to American students and members of the League of Woman Voters. However, it was also found that an increase in understanding might decrease risk perception.
Conclusions: It was concluded that nursing students require adequate education about radiation, in order to reduce their fear of X-rays and to mitigate their risk perception.
Nurse Education Today
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
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