The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of participation in the Living Legends program upon health science students' image of older adults and interest in working with older people. A multisite quasi-experimental control group design with a connected qualitative component was used. Program sites included three Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and one senior center. Health science students (n = 43) from two universities and two community colleges and community-dwelling seniors (n = 39) participated in the program. A baseline questionnaire was used to ascertain demographic characteristics and prior type and amount of contact with older adults. The Image of Aging Scale and Likert-style questions to measure interest in working with older adults were the primary outcome measures. Written responses to program experiences were also collected. Analysis of covariance was used to compare changes in Image of Aging subscale scores from pre- to posttest. Mean change in positive image of older adults subscale scores was 4.6 (SD = 4.4) for the intervention group and -0.6 (SD = 4.8) for the control group. The difference between groups was significant (F = 22.0, P <.001), and the effect size was large (Cohen's d = 1.07). Nine of the 22 students in the intervention group had a greater interest in working with seniors after the program. Qualitative themes that emerged included a positive and beneficial experience, life lessons, seeing the person beyond the visible, power of the written word, and shared lives. Living Legends is an effective program to enhance positive images of older adults in future healthcare professionals and may have a positive impact on some students with regard to interest in working with older adults.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geriatrics and Gerontology