Changing medical students' attitudes about older adults and future older patients

Carolyn K Shue, Kim McNeley, Louise Arnold
Academic Medicine 2005, 80 (10): S6-9

BACKGROUND: An important step in educating future physicians to care for older patients is to diminish the influence of negative stereotypes they often hold about older people. This study presents outcomes of a mentors-on-aging program designed to promote positive attitudes toward older adults and older patients among medical students.

METHOD: A pretest, posttest, control group design, with survey data, was used.

RESULTS: Analysis of students' preprogram responses compared to postprogram responses indicated that their attitudes did improve. Furthermore, the students' postprogram attitudes toward older adults were more positive than the control group's; however, their attitudes toward older patients did not differ from the control group.

CONCLUSIONS: A mentors-on-aging program offering students interaction with healthy, active older adults can help students to acquire positive attitudes toward older people. More targeted experiences with generally healthy older people as patients may be needed to significantly improve students' attitudes toward older patients.

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