Investigating motivations and barriers to working with older people among psychologists in clinical training in the UK

Lee, Kristina (1999). Investigating motivations and barriers to working with older people among psychologists in clinical training in the UK. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e27c

Abstract

Background and Aims: The population aged over 65 in the UK is increasing, however this population is traditionally underserved by clinical psychologists. Part of the reason for this underservice may relate to psychologists' reluctance to work with this group. The literature suggests a number of issues which may account for this reluctance, e. g. professional ageism, anxiety about ageing, death and dependency. This research aims to explore the relevance of these issues among clinical psychology trainees, as well as exploring their attitudes towards psychotherapy with older clients and their thoughts about how recruitment could be improved

Design and Participants: A cross sectional postal design was used. Questionnaires were sent to trainees at 25 of the Clinical Psychology Training courses in the UK. Three hundred and seventy-one trainees returned questionnaires.

Measures: A questionnaire was designed by the author which included a number of published measures.

Results: The trainees reported that they were less interested in working within the older adult specialty than within the adult or child specialties, although older adult services were more popular than learning disability services. The trainees' interest in working with older people could be predicted by their interest in this area prior to training; by aspects of their ageing anxiety and by their experience of working with older people during training. The trainees' age; death anxiety and attitude to older people did not predict their interest in this area. Trainees further discussed how they thought approaches should be modified with older people; why they thought recruitment to this area may be problematic and how recruitment could be improved.

Discussion and Implications: The discussion considers provisional explanations for the findings. The clinical implications are examined particularly in terms of recruitment to the older adult specialty. The limitations with this study are explored and ways forward suggested

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