The purpose of this study was to learn whether the attitudes and knowledge of a group of people who had not been selected for their knowledge or interest in geriatrics would change after the establishment of a psychogeriatric unit. The instrument for the study was the Palmore Facts on Aging Questionnaire, a 25-item true-or-false instrument that has been shown to be a valid measure of knowledge about the elderly. To evaluate whether the psychogeriatric staff had similar knowledge to comparably educated workers, the questionnaire scores of registered nurses and aides obtained before the unit was established were compared by the Mann-Whitney U Test with scores obtained by Holtzman and Beck from similarly trained individuals. They were not significantly different, suggesting that the staff members did not have special interest in or knowledge about the elderly before the unit's establishment. These results demonstrate that working on the psychogeriatric unit resulted in increased knowledge about the elderly. The authors feel these results support the contention that contact with the elderly through direct patient care and teaching conferences results in increased knowledge about aging. They suggest that direct contact with the elderly in the educational experience of physicians, nurses, social workers, and other health care providers be made mandatory. Requiring such experience for these disciplines may change the negative bias many health workers have about working with the elderly. Finally, they feel their study supports previous findings that the Facts on Aging Questionnaire can be used to evaluate changes in knowledge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health