Ecological Knowledge and Environment friendly Attitudes of Nurses: Evaluation of the Greek Situation

Background: Protection of the environment is an issue of community concern. Many developed countries have invested in legislation “friendly” to the environment, aiming to make gloomy predictions to seem unreal. Based on studies and surveys that investigated the knowledge and attitudes of population samples towards protection of environment, several campaigns have been carried out with the ultimate purpose of informing and raising the awareness of the majority of the population. Aim: To assess the level of awareness and sensitivity in nurses concerning protection of the environment and to investigate whether and to what percentage they apply ecological practices on an everyday basis. Method: The study was conducted with 304 nurses selected by simple random sampling in 7 hospitals of Attica during 2009, with a response rate of 93.75%. The nurses completed a questionnaire that included 4 sections of questions referring respectively to demographic characteristics, level of knowledge, way of life and practices to be followed as far as the issue of protecting environment is concerned. The questionnaire development was based on information gathered from theoretical and research literature; discussion with experts, followed by implementation of a pilot study, then implementation of a field test on a sample of 150 individuals. Statistical analysis was carried out using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) v. 16.0 for Windows. Results: Of the study sample of nurses, 82.5% were females. A percentage of 70.9% knew that the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works is responsible for environmental issues. The majority (82.1%) of nurses considered factories to be the main cause of air pollution, while more than half (55.1%) of them mentioned cars as a source. The main world environmental problem was assessed by 71.5% to be ozone depletion. Of the total sample, 31.6% expressed great interest in environmental issues. With reference to the question about the basic problems of Greece, environmental disaster was placed third in their list, after unemployment and economical crisis. Concerning personal practices, 82.8% stated that they would pay higher prices to purchase products that are friendly to environment. The majority of them followed specific practices, such as saving water (93.3%), reducing home electricity consumption (90.9%) and participating in recycling programmes (88.2%). Conclusions: The nurses in the sample proved to be sensitive to environmental issues and ready to adopt ecological practices. This study could provide the basis for designing the appropriate information strategies regarding environmental protection, to be targeted at other population groups, in order to achieve greater benefits for all.