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Hospital doctors' attitudes towards older people

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Abstract Background:

Ageism among health professionals is increasingly recognized, but few studies investigated hospital doctors' attitudes towards older people. The aims of this study were to investigate hospital doctors' attitudes towards older people and to determine whether factors, which were identified in studies on other health professionals, influence hospital doctors' attitudes. Methods:

Hospital doctors who worked in General Medicine or Aged Care units in two tertiary public hospitals in metropolitan Victoria, Australia, in 2008 were surveyed with Fraboni's Scale of Ageism (FSA), a validated instrument used to investigate attitudes towards older people. Demographic data from participants were collected. Results:

Of the 235 questionnaires distributed, 122 were returned (overall response rate 51.9%). Response rate was highest among consultants (80.4%), followed by registrars (64.1%) and lowest among interns and residents (35.2%). The mean FSA score attained by the respondents was 61.5 (SD 11.0), representing a point between a neutral and a positive disposition. Doctors' characteristics that were associated with more positive attitudes towards older people included age of 30 years or older (P < 0.001), female gender (P= 0.003), more senior in position (P < 0.001), postgraduate years of 10 or more (P < 0.001), previous working experience in Aged Care (P < 0.001), interest in Aged Care (P < 0.001) and more frequent social contacts with healthy older people (P < 0.001). Conclusion:

Hospital doctors of different demographic features and background characteristics display different attitudes towards older people. These findings can be used to inform future development of undergraduate and postgraduate medical curricula and form a basis for future studies on the effectiveness of these interventions in improving doctors' attitudes.
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Keywords: aged; ageism; hospital; older; physician

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Aged Care, Melbourne Health, 2: Department of Aged Care, Western Health, and 3: Clinical Epidemiology and Health Service Evaluation Unit, Melbourne Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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