Post-print of: Heycox, K & Hughes, M 2006, 'Social work students’ attitudes towards and interest in working with older people: an exploratory study', Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 6-14.
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This article reports on an exploratory study of the attitudes towards older people of final year social work students at the University of New South Wales. It also investigated students’ interest in working with older people in the future. While it was found that overall their attitudes were fairly neutral, as with international studies there were slightly more positive attitudes towards the ‘young-old’ than the ‘old-old’ and towards older women compared to older men. Additionally female students were slightly more positive than male students in their attitudes towards older people. Interest in working with older people in the future was significantly associated with prior exposure to a course on ageing issues. The paper concludes with recommendations for an audit of program content on ageing issues and the challenge for researchers in accessing students’ actual attitudes beyond the neutral and professionally more acceptable responses. It also proposes some other areas for further research, such as an examination of educators’ attitudes towards older people.