Changing medical students' attitudes toward older adults

Ernest Gonzales, Nancy Morrow-Howell, Pat Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the growth in the number of older adults and the ageist attitudes many in the health care profession hold, interventions aimed at improving health professionals' attitudes toward older adults are imperative. Vital Visionaries is an intergenerational art program designed to improve medical students' attitudes toward older adults. Participants met for four 2-hour sessions at local art museums to create and discuss art. Three hundred and twenty-eight individuals (112 treatment group, 96 comparison, 120 older adults) in eight cities participated in the program and evaluation. Participants completed pre-and postsurveys that captured their attitude toward older adults, perception of commonality with older adults, and career plans. Findings suggest that medical students' attitudes toward old adults were positive at pretest. However, Vital Visionary students became more positive in their attitudes toward older adults at posttest (p <.001), with a moderate effect size, G =.60, and they felt they had more in commonwith older adults at posttest (p <.001), with a moderate effect size, G =.64. The program did not influence their career plans (p =.35). Findings from this demonstration project suggest that socializing medical students with healthy older adults through art programs can foster positive attitudes and enhance their sense of commonality with older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-234
Number of pages15
JournalGerontology and Geriatrics Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Ageism
  • Art
  • Attitudes
  • Career plans
  • Contact hypothesis
  • Medical students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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