A comparison of the level of knowledge of caseworkers and nurses regarding attachment behaviors and separation anxiety reactions
Hamilton, Patricia A.
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The problem of this descriptive study was to compare the level of knowledge of caseworkers and nurses in regard to the concepts of attachment behaviors and separation anxiety reactions in children. The purpose of the study was to determine if there were differences between the levels of knowledge of caseworkers and nurses regarding these important concepts. Attachment behaviors have been identified in the literature as instinctive actions used by an infant to draw his caregiver into interaction. Sucking, crying, clinging, and following are considered to be attachment behaviors. Separation anxiety is the term used to describe the primary emotional response of an infant or child who is separated from his caregiver. The phases of separation anxiet have been classified as protest, withdrawal, and despair. A questionnaire concerning attachment behaviors and separation anxiety reactions was developed by the investigator and a panel of experts. This questionnaire was given to twenty-eight social caseworkers employed in the foster care unit of a child welfare agency in a large metropolitan city. The questionnaire was also given to twenty-six students in their first clinical semester in the graduate maternal and child health nursing program at a large university clinical center. the caseworkers and nurses are somewhat different in all demographic characteristics studied. However, profession was the only characteristic which fully accounted for the strongly significant difference between the scores of nurses and caseworkers. The nurses scored significantly higher than caseworkers on the questionnaire. The nurse's role in the child welfare setting appears to be unexplored. However, this study indicated that the nurses studied were knowledgeable regarding important concepts which sociological literature has identified as valuable when dealing with a child in a child welfare setting.