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Late-life mental health education for workforce development: brain versus heart?

  • Author(s): Rosen, Jules
  • Stiehl, Emily
  • Mittal, Vikas
  • Fox, Debra
  • Hennon, John
  • Jeste, Dilip
  • Reynolds, Charles F
  • et al.
Abstract

Purpose

There is a shortage of mental health professionals to care for a growing geriatric population. Though not mutually exclusive, clinical and didactic educational experiences promote cognition, whereas affective knowledge (attitude) is promoted through nonclinical exposure to seniors. This study evaluates the relative impact of cognition and attitude on career interests among healthcare students.

Methods

We developed 13 interactive, video documentary "lessons" on late-life mental health presenting didactic material along with stories of actual patients and families. Four of these lessons were viewed at 1-week intervals by 42 students from medical school and graduate programs of social work, psychology, and nursing. Knowledge, attitudes, and inclinations toward working with seniors were assessed.

Results

Both cognition and attitudes toward seniors improved. Linear regression shows that change in attitude, not cognition, predicts interest in working with seniors.

Conclusion

Educational experiences that promote affective learning may enhance interest in geriatric careers among healthcare students.

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