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Attitudes, knowledge, and interest: preparing university students to work in an aging world

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 September 2010

Daniela C. Gonçalves*
Affiliation:
School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Australia UnIFai – Research and Education Unit on Aging, Portugal
Joana Guedes
Affiliation:
Instituto Superior de Serviço Social do Porto, Portugal
António M. Fonseca
Affiliation:
UnIFai – Research and Education Unit on Aging, Portugal Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal
Fernando Cabral Pinto
Affiliation:
Instituto Piaget, Portugal
Inácio Martín
Affiliation:
UnIFai – Research and Education Unit on Aging, Portugal Universidade de Aveiro, Secção Autónoma de Ciências da Saúde, Portugal
Gerard J. Byrne
Affiliation:
School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Australia
Nancy A. Pachana
Affiliation:
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Australia
*
Correspondence should be addressed to: Daniela C. Gonçalves, Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Queensland, K Floor, Mental Health Centre, Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital, Herston 4029 QLDAustralia. Phone: + 617 3365 5572; Fax: + 617 3365 5488. Email: d.goncalves@uqconnect.edu.au.

Abstract

Background: The underlying goals of the present study were (i) to assess knowledge of and attitudes towards aging in a sample of Portuguese undergraduate students undertaking various degrees in health and welfare subjects, and (ii) to analyze the extent to which knowledge, attitudes and other factors were associated with interest in working with older adults.

Methods: The study was cross-sectional in design. The sample comprised 460 Portuguese undergraduate students enrolled in degrees in nursing, social work, and psychology. They were asked to complete questionnaires and quizzes, which were analyzed using contingency tables and one way analysis of variance for inter-group comparison, and then subjected to multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results: Significant differences emerged between groups on knowledge, attitudes towards aging and interest in working with older adults, with both nursing and social work students displaying more positive attitudes, knowledge, and interest in working with older adults, when compared with psychology students. A regression analysis indicated that attitudes, knowledge, and previous formal contact were significant predictors of interest.

Conclusion: Interest in working with older adults was significantly related to positive attitudes, more knowledge and formal previous contact. Positive attitudes towards older adults can be promoted through interaction with faculty members and experts, knowledge acquisition about normative changes with age, and contact with healthy and impaired older adults.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2010

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