Engaging older people as university-based instructors: A model to improve the empathy and attitudes of pharmacists in training

Carmen Abeyaratne, J. Simon Bell, Laura Dean, Paul White, Sheryl Maher-Sturgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background and purpose: Clinical guidelines increasingly emphasise the importance of comprehensive and holistic care for older people. The objective of this education brief is to describe a workshop designed to improve first year pharmacy students' empathy and attitudes towards older people. Educational activity and setting: A two-hour, interactive, university-based workshop was developed and evaluated. Small groups of first year pharmacy students (approximately five per group) worked with an older person to complete a number of scaffolded activities focused on the older person's life experiences with pharmacy and medication usage. The effectiveness of this intervention was measured using an eight-item, pre- and post-workshop survey adapted from published scales. Findings: Engaging older people as university-based instructors for first year pharmacy students was associated with significant improvements in three of the eight attitudinal items. Following the workshop, students were more likely to report that older people are: pleasant to be with (p < 0.001), more likely to understand what it feels like to have problems with aging (p < 0.005) and less likely to believe older people become less organised and more confused as they age (p < 0.001). Engaging older people as university-based instructors for first year pharmacy students may be a useful strategy to develop empathy and positive attitudes towards older people. Further research is needed to determine if the attitudinal improvements are sustained over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Attitudes
  • Education
  • Empathy
  • Older people
  • Pharmacy students

Cite this