Physiotherapy students' attitudes towards and knowledge of older people

Cheryl Hobbs*, Catherine Mary Dean, Joy Higgs, Barbara Adamson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to determine whether students' attitudes towards and knowledge of older people changed throughout the physiotherapy undergraduate program. Students' demographic information and attitudes towards and knowledge of older people were gathered via repeated question-responses over three points of time during the 4-year program. Validated instruments - the Geriatric Attitudinal Scale (GAS) and the Facts on Ageing Quiz 1 (FAQ1) - were used to measure participants' attitudes and knowledge of older people. The FAQ1 yielded two variables: knowledge as percentage of FAQ1 correct responses, and ignorance as percentage of FAQ1 Don't Know responses. The instruments were administered in Year 2 prior to the students' first clinical (Time 1), immediately after their first clinical (Time 2), and Year 4 just prior to completion of the program (Time 3). Changes over time were analysed using paired t-tests with significance set at p < 0.05. Participants initially demonstrated positive attitudes towards older people with a mean of 73.8% GAS positive responses with no significant change over time (p = 0.56). Initial knowledge about older people was poor with a mean of 43.6% FAQ1 correct responses which increased significantly over time to 51.7% (p = 0.0001). This improvement in knowledge was accompanied by a decrease in ignorance over the study period (p = 0.0001). While attitudes toward older people were positive and knowledge improved over time, the level of knowledge attained was below expectation for beginning practitioners. This finding has implications for the education and training of physiotherapy students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-119
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Journal of Physiotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Older People
  • Physiotherapy Students
  • Attitudes
  • Knowledge
  • Aged Care


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