Perceptions of older people among social work students in Hong Kong
Author(s)So, Ka Man
KeywordsSocial work with older people -- China -- Hong Kong
Vocational interests -- China -- Hong Kong
Social work education -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
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Abstractxvi, 782 pages ; 30 cm
PolyU Library Call No.: [THS] LG51 .H577P APSS 2014 So
The study aimed at understanding the perceptions of older people among social work students in Hong Kong through examining the antecedent variables of attitudes toward older people and the correlates in the attitude-behavioral intention relationship. By applying an integrated conceptual model based on the ecological-cognitive-social-psychological perspective, six constructs intrinsic to the hypothetical integrative model were examined. They included personal factors, environmental factors, demographic factors, attitudes toward older people, attitudes toward working with older people and intention to work with older people. Besides investigating the predictor-criterion relationships among these six constructs, this study also examined mediating and moderating mechanisms in the conceptual model. This study adopted a cross-sectional design involving two stages. In Stage 1, two new measurements were developed whilst another two Western measurements were translated from English into Chinese. Validity and reliability tests demonstrated that these four measurements possessed adequate psychometric properties.
Stage 2 was the main study surveying 569 full-time undergraduate social work students in six local universities. Several significant observations were highlighted. First, knowledge about aging and older people, favorability of experience of contact with older people and personal psychosocial qualities were identified as the three most significant predictors of attitudes toward older people. Second, personal psychosocial qualities, credit-bearing gerontology-related course taken and favorability of experience of contact with older people were identified as the three most significant predictors of attitudes toward working with older people. Third, personal psychosocial qualities was found as a significant predictor of attitudes toward older people and attitudes toward working with older people, respectively. It was regarded as a protective factor of negative attitudes toward older people and ageism. Fourth, the mediating effects of attitudes toward older people, either in complete or partial manner, on the influences of some of the personal and environmental variables on attitudes toward working with older people were confirmed. Fifth, as regards the two attitudinal variables, attitudes toward working with older people but not attitudes toward older people had strong and significant predictive power on intention to work with older people. This finding also gave support for the mediating role of attitudes toward working with older people in the relationship between attitudes toward older people and intention to work with older people. This study has significant contributions. Theoretically, the hypothetical integrative model provides a comprehensive perspective for examining the perceptions of older people among undergraduate social work students at and across different levels of ecosystems and perspectives in Chinese culture. The findings also enrich theory building through the inclusion of the two attitudinal variables and past behavior in the attitude-behavioral intention relation. Educationally, the findings highlight the important of providing adequate gerontology-related knowledge, offering more opportunities for direct exposure to older people and enhancing development of personal psychosocial qualities for building aging-competency through social work education. Practically, the study provides insight on policy directions and ageism-free practices. With the development of the two validated indigenous measurements and the advancement in methodology, the present study as a pioneer of its kind in Hong Kong provides cornerstone for future research.
Ph.D., Dept. of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2014