Upon examining the educational status and jobs of the students’ parents, they were moderate in terms of the sociocultural level. In our study, very few students stated that they had someone interested in forensic medicine among their family. However, it was determined that this did not affect students’ knowledge level with regard to forensic nursing (p > 0.05). Similar to our study, in the study by Şentürk and Büyükaslan (2013) that sought to determine the knowledge and opinions of senior nursing students about forensic nursing, only 12% of them had a family member who was interested in forensic medicine. Most of the students had no one who was interested in forensics in their family, and it was thought that this situation might affect the level of knowledge and awareness about forensic cases.
Nurses are responsible for evaluating patients in a comprehensive manner, identifying problems intervention to solve problems and recording when the patients come to the emergency services due to health problems. These duties of nurses are also applicable in forensics cases. In addition, it is expected in forensic cases that nurses will collect forensic evidence and keep and give them to competent authorities (Green 1993). In our study, nearly half of the students stated that they did not know what forensic nurses’ duties would be, and they chose the furthest “recording of evidences” among the duties of forensic nurses (Table 1). This finding suggests that the most important thing that students perceive as the duties of forensic nurses is limited to the recording of evidence.
Very few of the students defined forensic nursing as “nurses who work and study in judicial cases” (Table 1). In a study conducted by Kalayci et al. (2014) in which the knowledge levels of nursing students with regard to forensic nursing was evaluated, nearly half of the students who participated understood the true definition of forensic medicine. They defined forensic nurses as people who collect, keep, and send evidence to relevant units.
Health personnel are often confronted with forensic cases. Therefore, the lack of information about forensic cases prevents the recognition of such cases. Forensic nurses who encounter forensic cases should be able to diagnose them (Lynch 2011). The ratio of forensic cases encountered was very low for the students who participated in our study (Table 1). Similarly, in the study of Şentürk and Büyükaslan (2013), it was determined that very few of the students had met forensic cases. It is thought that the students’ inability to identify legal cases, their lack of education in the school, and the fact that they had not seen enough of such cases in their clinical practice are effective.
When we examine the frequency of forensic cases in Turkey in order of prevalence, traffic accidents is first, followed by penetrating-cutting tool injuries, falls, firearm injuries, and sexual crimes (Türkiye İstatistik Kurumu 2006-2015). However, most of the students in our study reported “sexual offenses” as primary forensic cases (Table 1). In the study conducted by Kalayci et al. (2014), 32.2% of students described “malpractice” cases as primary forensic cases. It is thought that the students being more likely to encounter such stories in the media is effective in this situation. While trying to determine the knowledge levels of healthcare staff working in emergency services with regard to common approaches to forensic cases, almost all healthcare personnel described “firearm injuries” and “sexual assault” cases as forensic cases. It is thought that the reason for the different definitions between students and nurses with regard to forensic cases is that students will identify forensic cases mostly from the media and nurses will correctly identified them based on the most frequently encountered pathways in clinics.
It is crucial that healthcare staff receive training in forensic cases in terms of crime and criminal findings, the elimination of victimization of the victim, and contribution to justice (Lynch 2006; Stevens 2004). The majority of students stated that they had no information about forensic nursing and that they were not trained in forensic nursing (Table 1). Today, the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) TV series seems effective at creating social awareness of forensic science (Yakupoğlu et al. 2016). Thus, the duties and expectations of such professionals are increasing. In our study, very few of the students stated that they followed publications/programs related to forensic medicine/forensic nursing in the media and that they mostly used the Internet for this purpose. It was also determined in our study that students following publications/programs related to nursing in the media had no effect on information about forensic nursing (p > 0.05). Similar results were obtained when we examined studies conducted with the students related to the subject. In the study of Şentürk and Büyükaslan (2013), it was determined that most of the students had no knowledge about forensic nursing; the very few who did had obtained information from seminars, magazines, and the Internet. When we examined the studies conducted with nurses related to the subject, İlçe et al. (2010) investigated the knowledge and applications of healthcare personnel working in emergency departments for the protection and preservation of evidence in forensic cases; they stated that more than half of the 44 healthcare staff who participated in the study had not received any training with regard to forensic nursing. Caliskan and Ozden (2012) conducted a study with 233 people to determine the level of knowledge of healthcare personnel in Turkey with regard to forensic evidence; they found that 73% of the personnel had not received training on forensic cases, and 17.5% of participants who had received training in this area reported that such training had been insufficient. It is believed that the reason for this lack of information is not to include forensic nursing as a course in our country’s undergraduate curriculum.
It was determined that the difference between the socio-demographic characteristics of the students, whether their family members were interested in forensic medicine, and the opinions of students with regard to forensic nursing was not significant (p > 0.05). In the study by Şentürk and Büyükaslan (2013), the socio-demographic characteristics of the participating students, whether their family members were interested in forensic medicine, and their knowledge level regarding forensic nursing were compared, and no statistically significant difference was found between the groups (p > 0.05).
Strengthening forensic nursing education increases patient care quality, patient safety, access to services, the confidence and skill levels of nurses, and patient satisfaction, while reducing the burden on the health system (Simmons and Grandfield 2013). In our study, almost all students stated that training on forensic nursing should be taken and nearly half reported that there should be elective courses while at school (Table 2). In the study of Şentürk and Büyükaslan (2013), all participating students indicated that training related to forensic nursing should be given and more than half reported that this training was taken during basic vocational training. From here, we can see that students are aware of their lack of knowledge and want this to be remedied.
Forensic nursing is a collaborative field of medicine and law that requires both general health sciences and legal knowledge (Lynch 2006; Kent-Wilkinson 1999; Lynch 2011). In our study, students stated that forensic nurses often needed knowledge of forensic science and basic health sciences, and very few students chose the law option. In the study by Şentürk and Büyükaslan (2013), most students (28.0%) stated that forensic nurses should have knowledge of basic health sciences (Table 1). It is believed that students often see forensic nursing related to health sciences, as they do not fully understand the definition of forensic nursing.
Forensic nurses have many areas of study such as hospitals, prisons, forensic medical institutions, judicial offices, detention centers and crime scene investigations (Kent-Wilkinson 1999; Lynch 2011). Most of the students who participated in our study stated that the working areas of judicial nurses were forensic medicine institutions. In the study by Şentürk and Büyükaslan (2013), approximately half of the students stated that the working areas of the forensic nurses were hospitals and very few students reported that their working areas were forensic medical institutions (Table 1). In the study conducted by Kalayci et al. (2014), the students stated that the forensic case studies were not only done by forensic medicine-trained colleagues. Many participants saw forensic nurses as working in forensic medicine or hospitals, suggesting that forensic nursing was only associated with the field of healthcare according to students’ opinions.