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Dietetic students’ attitudes to and knowledge of working with older people.

Mackenzie, Myra; Mcaulay, Connie


Myra Mackenzie

Connie Mcaulay


Across the world, people are living longer but not necessarily healthier lives. Healthcare professionals will need to be prepared to work with older people, recognising that, at all stages of the lifespan, attention to nutrition and other health behaviours can impact positively on wellbeing. This study examined the attitudes, knowledge and future career preferences of pre-registration dietetic students in the United Kingdom towards working with older people. A questionnaire, based on the validated Palmore Facts on Aging Quiz and adapted to a UK population, was sent to the fifteen universities which provide dietetic courses in the UK approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Responses were received from thirteen universities, and, of the estimated 1250 students, 285 questionnaires were completed (response rate 23%) with the predominant demographic being 91% female, and 86% undergraduate degree type. The mean knowledge score was higher in postgraduate vs. undergraduate students (69.6% vs. 65.2%; p [less than] 0.011). A weak positive correlation (rs = 0.155) was found between number of placement weeks carried out and knowledge score (p [less than] 0.01). Care of the elderly was the least preferred of five specialities, and 65-plus was the fourth preferred age group out of five. A greater focus should be placed on the delivery of aging education and placement experiences in dietetic courses to increase the number of graduate dietetic students who have positive work preferences towards older adults.


MACKENZIE, M. and MCAULAY, C. 2020. Dietetic students' attitudes to and knowledge of working with older people. International journal of practice-based learning in health and social care [online], 8(1), pages 86-98. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 26, 2020
Online Publication Date May 26, 2020
Publication Date Jun 2, 2020
Deposit Date Jun 25, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jun 25, 2020
Journal International journal of practice-based learning in health and social care
Electronic ISSN 2051-6223
Publisher National Association of Educators in Practice
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 1
Pages 86-98
Keywords Attitudes; Dietetic students; Knowledge; Older people; Work preferences
Public URL


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