Longitudinal assessment of medical student attitudes toward older people

Justin C. De Biasio, Valerie Parkas, Rainier P. Soriano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Delivering adequate care to older people requires an increasing number of physicians competent in the treatment of this expanding subpopulation. Attitudes toward older adults are important as predictors of the quality of care of older people and of medical trainee likelihood to enter the geriatrics field. This study assessed the attitudes of 404 US medical students (MS) from the start of medical school to graduation using the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Geriatrics Attitude Scale. It is the first study to utilize a longitudinal design to assess attitudes among students in a medical school with a longitudinal geriatrics clinical experience in the first two years and a required geriatrics clerkship in the third year. Participants’ attitude scores toward older people were found to significantly decrease from 3.9 during the first two years to 3.7 during the final two. Significant differences existed between MS1 and MS3, MS1 and MS4, MS2 and MS3, and MS2 and MS4. Women and older students held significantly more positive attitudes than men and younger students. These results show that planned clinical exposures to older adults may not be sufficient to halt the decline in attitudes in medical school. A comprehensive empathy-building intervention embedded in the curriculum may better prevent this decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-828
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2 Aug 2016


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