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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Attitudes of social work students toward older persons Kwan, Yui-Huen


Over the last decade, the percentage of elderly in the total population in Canada had shown a marked rate of increase which is expected to continue. Unquestionably, the need for more social workers working directly or indirectly with older persons is obvious. So studies of the attitudes of helping professionals in service delivery to older people are increasingly important. The present study aims at improving our understanding of attitudes toward old people, and in helping to identify variables that might be related to these attitudes. The setting for the study is the School of Social Work, University of British Columbia. The universe for the study consisted of all the full-time and part-time students enrolled in the School during the 1981-1982 academic year. Data were collected by means of a structured self-administered questionnaire. The attitude measurements used in this study included Palmore's Facts on Aging Quiz (FAQ), Kogan's Attitudes toward Old People Scale (OP), and author's Willingness to Help Aged Relatives Scale (WHAR). The analysis of data in this study was divided into four parts—validity and reliability, univariate analysis, bivariate analysis, and multivariate analysis. The findings suggested that the three measures of attitudes toward older persons used in this study seemed to assess different aspects of attitudes toward aging. The FAQ is essentially useless as an indirect measure to assess the 'aged-bias' of social work students toward older persons. The past experiences of social work students with older persons were related to their attitudes toward older persons, but different variables contributed to each of the three attitudinal measurements used. Among the variables, age and work with aged before have more predictive power in social work students' attitudes toward older persons. Both FAQ and OP scales are multidimensional in nature instead of uni-dimensional. The findings of the study are considered to have important implications for the development of curriculum policy and training program for social work students. And a proposal for modifying attitudes is suggested by the author.

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