Predictors of interest in working with older adults: A survey of postgraduate trainee psychologists

Deborah Anne Koder*, Edward Helmes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the growing number of older adults that implies an increasing need for psychological services, few psychologists choose to specialize in working with older clients. The present cross-sectional research examined predictors of student interest in working with older clients in an effort to understand factors that may influence future psychologists to work in this area. The targeted sample consisted of Australian postgraduate psychology students whose course coordinators responded to a request to participate in this national survey. Four hundred and thirty-one postgraduate trainee psychology students completed the survey that examined training, contact, and attitudinal variables. This represents a 45.3% response rate from surveys being distributed by course coordinators. Having undergone or intending to do a placement within an aged care setting was the most powerful predictor of interest, with confidence in working with the elderly, and positively anticipating old age being attitudinal factors related to increased interest. Amount or quality of contact with older adults and formal education through aging-related coursework failed to predict interest, based on hierarchical regression analysis. Implications for future training of psychologists highlight the importance of quality clinical experiences with older clients during training as opposed to pure coursework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-171
Number of pages14
JournalGerontology and Geriatrics Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged care
  • Ageism
  • Contact hypothesis
  • Geropsychology
  • Interest in aging
  • Postgraduate training
  • Psychology training


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