Real engagement improving paramedic attitudes towards the elderly

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Background: Negative attitudes adversely impact on patient care and outcomes. Given the aging population in Australia, it is inevitable that paramedic attendance to this demographic of patients will also rise. It is therefore imperative that undergraduate paramedic attitudes towards elderly patients are investigated, along with pedagogical approaches to maintain or enhance them. Methods: Eleven second-year paramedic students enrolled in Monash University s Bachelor of Emergency Health (Paramedic) degree, came together with 11 independently living elderly residents from Patterson Lakes Village and participated in an engagement activity. The Aging Semantic Differential (ASD) survey and focus groups were used to analyse the students attitudes towards the elderly, before and after the activity. Negative attitudes adversely impact on patient care and outcomes Results: Students showed improved attitudes toward the elderly across two of the three ASD dimensions. Focus group discussions suggested that students found the elderly participants to be more independent and capable than they had first thought, but were unchanged on their attitude with regard to elderly people being inflexible. Conclusion: Students were presented with an opportunity to actively engage with independently living elderly patients. This experience challenged their preconceived ideas about the elderly and their capabilities, and at a minimum increased awareness, which will assist future paramedics in their interactions and care of these patients
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37 - 41
Number of pages5
JournalThe Clinical Teacher
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

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