Student Paramedic Attitudes Towards the Elderly: A cross-sectional study


patient care

How to Cite

Ross L, Duigan T, Boyle MJ, Williams B. Student Paramedic Attitudes Towards the Elderly: A cross-sectional study. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine [Internet]. 2014May5 [cited 2023Jan.26];11(3). Available from:



It is well known that Australia has an aging population and that the elderly are disproportionately overrepresented in the patients seen by ambulance paramedics. While research to date has primarily focussed on the attitudes towards the elderly held by nursing and medical students, there is a current paucity of research about the perspective of paramedic students. The objective of this study was to identify the attitudes of paramedic students from a large Australian university towards the elderly.


In 2013, second year paramedic students from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia were invited to participate in this cross-sectional study and record their attitudes towards the elderly (age >65) using the Aging Semantic Differential (ASD) questionnaire. The ASD utilises a 7 point bipolar Likert scale questionnaire consisting of 32 items and three subscales: Instrument—Ineffective; Autonomous—Dependent; Personal Acceptability—Unacceptability.


Fifty six second year paramedic students participated in the study. The participants were predominantly <26 years of age n=48 (85.7%) and female n=36 (64.3%).  Subscale results produced the following mean scores: Instrument—Ineffective (mean=35.05, SD=5.01); Autonomous—Dependent (mean=34.25, SD=4.26); Personal Acceptability—Unacceptability (mean=49.47, SD=6.44).


These results suggest that while student paramedics possess a healthy respect for the elderly, they also harbour some preconceived negative ideas about them. Ultimately, these attitudes may impact on a paramedic’s interaction with, and management of the elderly patient, which raises questions about whether students are being adequately prepared for clinical practice.


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