Attitudes towards Working with Older Adults: Differences between African American and White Social Work Students

By Carolyn Turturro and Rosalie Otters.

Published by The International Journal of Diverse Identities

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As elsewhere in the world, the population of the United States (U.S.) is rapidly aging, with over one in four persons predicted to be over 60 by 2050. Social workers interested in working with older adults are greatly needed to work with the large number of baby boomers set to enter retirement age over the next two decades. This study examines surveys from 135 Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) students in an urban U.S. university. It assesses interest in gerontological social work as indicated by the BSW Experiential Learning (BEL) Outcomes Measure. The principal components of the Attitudes on Adult Aging Scale are also explored. Comparisons of 41 African American students with 81 white students find that African American students have more positive attitudes towards aging and greater interest in gerontological social work in comparison to white students. Greater interest in gerontological social work as indicated by higher BEL scores are predicted by: positive attitudes towards aging, increased lifetime experience with older adults, and being African American. Future research is needed to further examine racial differences in aging attitudes and interest in working with older adults.

Keywords: Attitudes towards Adult Aging, Older Adults, BSW Social Workers

International Journal of Diverse Identities, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp.37-47. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 353.099KB).

Dr. Carolyn Turturro

Coordinator, Gerontology Program and Assistant Professor, School of Social, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR, USA

Dr. Carolyn Turturro is the Coordinator of the Gerontology Program within the School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her research focuses on the use of service learning as a professional training tool for gerontology and social work students. She also investigates factors related to homelessness across the lifespan.

Dr. Rosalie Otters

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, School of Social Work, Gerontology Program. Her research interests include gerontology, student learning, community service learning, and ethics in a diverse world.