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J Dent Educ. 2009 Jan;73(1):95-104.

Factors that influence dental students' attitudes about older adults.

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1
University of Buffalo, Amherst, NY 14260, USA. thn@buffalo.edu

Abstract

Our study considered dental students' general attitudes towards older persons using the Aging Semantic Differential. The influence of age, gender, cohort, education, and academic exposure on general attitudes towards older adults was evaluated using a total of 328 dental students across all four years of academic standing. Students were assessed in the fall and spring semesters. The results showed differential responding on the four subscales, with slight positive ratings on the autonomy, acceptability, and integrity subscales and a slight negative rating for instrumentality. Females expressed more negative attitudes than their male counterparts, with no age differences. There was also no significant impact from a specific, didactic educational component offered to the fourth-year students. However, the fourth-year students were the only group to show positive changes across the full academic year. The results suggest that general attitudes can be changed, but didactic (classroom) forms of education alone are insufficient to meaningfully modify students' perceptions of the elderly. Exposure to older adults in a clinical setting appears to be a critical element, as the fourth-year students received much greater exposure to older patients and more intensified interface with their mentors.

PMID:
19126770
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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