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Factors related to medical students’ and doctors’ attitudes towards older patients: a systematic review

Samra, Rajvinder; Cox, Tom; Gordon, Adam L.; Conroy, Simon; Lucassen, Mathijs; Griffiths, Amanda


Rajvinder Samra

Professor of The Care of Older People

Simon Conroy

Mathijs Lucassen

Amanda Griffiths


Background: Studies have sought to identify the possible determinants of medical students’ and doctors’ attitudes towards older patients by examining relationships with a variety of demographic, educational/training, and job factors. This review collates and synthesises these findings.

Methods: An electronic search of ten databases was performed (ABI/Inform, ASSIA, British Nursing Index, CINAHL, Informa Health, Medline, PsycINFO, Science Direct, Scopus, and Web of Science) through to 7 February 2017.

Results: The main search identified 2332 articles; 37 studies met the eligibility criteria set. All included studies analysed self-reported attitudes based on correlational analyses or difference testing, therefore causation cannot be determined. However, self-reported positive attitudes towards older patients were related to: (i) intrinsic motivation for studying medicine; (ii) increased preference for working with older patients; and (iii) good previous relationships with older people. Additionally, more positive attitudes were also reported in those with higher knowledge scores but these may relate to the use of a knowledge measure which is an indirect measure of attitudes (i.e. Palmore’s Facts on Aging Quizzes). Four out of the five high quality studies included in this review reported more positive attitudes in females compared to males.

Conclusion: This paper identifies factors associated with medical students’ and doctors’ positive attitudes towards older patients. Future research could bring greater clarity to the relationship between knowledge and attitudes by using a knowledge measure which is distinct from attitudes and also measures knowledge that is relevant to clinical care.


Samra, R., Cox, T., Gordon, A. L., Conroy, S., Lucassen, M., & Griffiths, A. (2017). Factors related to medical students’ and doctors’ attitudes towards older patients: a systematic review. Age and Ageing, 46(6),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 23, 2017
Online Publication Date May 2, 2017
Publication Date Nov 1, 2017
Deposit Date Mar 24, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 2, 2017
Journal Age and Ageing
Print ISSN 0002-0729
Electronic ISSN 1468-2834
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 6
Keywords Physician; Medical student; Attitude; Older adult; Systematic review
Public URL
Publisher URL


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