How medical professional students view older people with dementia: Implications for education and practice

Autoři: Theresa L. Scott aff001;  Melissa Kugelman aff001;  Kristen Tulloch aff001
Působiště autorů: School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225329



Healthcare professionals’ attitudes to older people, and especially those living with dementia, may contribute to unsatisfactory healthcare. Despite repeated calls to address increasing need, training an adequate geriatric workforce remains an international concern. Of particular concern are the attitudes and knowledge healthcare workers may hold about people living with dementia. Students’ knowledge of dementia has been found to be low at the beginning of their university education and has shown limited improvement throughout their coursework; greater understanding of students’ attitudes to ageing and dementia, upon entry and throughout their degrees, may help inform targeted educational interventions to improve the healthcare delivered to older people.


This study measured knowledge of and attitudes toward dementia and ageing in an Australian university student sample (n = 183), comparing students from medical professional versus non-medical professional related fields at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. We examined diagnostic and prognostic biases through age manipulation of a vignette describing a hypothetical patient (aged 42 or 72 years), who was experiencing symptoms that were consistent with DSM-5 criteria for both dementia and depression. Based on information provided in the vignette, student participants were asked to select a primary disorder that they would assign to the patient.


Showed that while medical professional students held significantly more positive attitudes toward ageing than 'other' students, average attitudinal scores indicated neutrality. Medical professional students indicated a diagnostic bias toward the older vignette patient, who was more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than depression. A history of geriatric-specific training did not predict dementia knowledge; however, having prior contact with people with dementia predicted both dementia knowledge and more positive prognoses.


Overall, findings indicated medical professional students held neutral attitudes towards older people and showed deficits in knowledge of dementia. Educational interventions that introduce students to people living with dementia may improve knowledge, skills, and attitudes. All university students would benefit from education about dementia and inclusivity to reduce stereotyping and stigma.

Klíčová slova:

Aging – Alzheimer's disease – Dementia – Depression – Diagnostic medicine – Elderly – Geriatrics – Undergraduates


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Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 11