Implicit associations related to physical disability among nursing students

Jeremiah Lum, Whitney Morean, Angela Maccarrone, Thomas P. Carpenter, Vicki Aaberg, Jacob A. Bentley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Negative beliefs about disability are associated with poorer outcomes for individuals with disabilities; understanding disability-related attitudes is critical for clinical care. Recently, interest in attitudes toward people with disabilities has increased; however, most studies focus on explicit attitudes. In contrast, the Disability Attitude Implicit Association Test (DA-IAT) is designed to evaluate respondents’ underlying automatic preferences regarding physical ability. Objective: The aim of this pilot study was to expand the literature on health professionals’ implicit disability attitudes by analyzing the DA-IAT in a sample of nursing students. Methods: A cross-sectional design was utilized with a sample of nursing students (n = 95; 88.7% female). Respondents completed the DA-IAT online before responding to some basic demographic questions. Results: Participants associated able-bodied status with positive descriptors more quickly than disability related stimuli. Conclusions: Most participants in this sample of nursing students (87%) mentally associated able-bodiedness with desirable traits in a more efficient manner than disability. Future research should focus on developing models to better understand the relationship between automatic processing, disability-related attitudes, and how this relationship informs clinician behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101150
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Disability
  • Implicit associations
  • Nursing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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