• Vol. 38 No. 2, 125–129
  • 15 February 2009

Junior Doctors’ Attitudes Towards Older Adults and its Correlates in a Tertiary-care Public Hospital

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: The medical community in Singapore is faced with a rapidly ageing demographic. This would result in an increase in the interaction between medical professionals and older adults. In anticipation of an increased exposure to elderly patients, we sought to determine the attitudes of our house officers (HO), medical officers (MO) and Registrars towards the elderly. Materials and Methods: A descriptive pilot study of junior doctors from the Division of Medicine carried out during a luncheon in the largest tertiary-care public hospital in Singapore. A validated self-administered structured questionnaire using Kogan’s Old People (KOP) Scale was used to evaluate attitudes towards older adults and basic demographics and medical educational data were collected. Results: Fifty-one questionnaires were completed. The mean KOP score was 114.4, suggesting an overall positive attitude towards older people in this sample. The prevalence of negative attitude was 7.8%. There was no significant difference in attitudes among doctors with different designation, age, marital status, medical school attended, nationality, years in medical practice and living arrangement. Doctors who had previous exposure with a posting in Geriatric Medicine had higher KOP scores but were just out of significance (P = 0.098). Respondents who found treating older people unrewarding had significantly lower KOP score (P <0.001). Conclusion: In this sample of junior doctors, overall attitudes towards older people as measured by the KOP scale were moderately positive. Exposure to a Geriatric Medicine posting during residency may positively influence a doctor’s attitudes towards the older adults.


Singapore is a rapidly ageing society. The proportion of older persons above the age of 65 was 6.8% of the population in 1995 and is projected to increase to 20% by the year 2030. The medical community is also faced with a similar problem in caring for an ageing population. Persons above the age of 70 years have the highest admission rates to hospitals in Singapore when compared to other age groups, the prevalence rates at 408.3 per 1000 population for men and 373.5 per 1000 population for women.

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