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Marriage and family therapists' gerontological knowledge




Lawrence, Jennifer E., author
Fruhauf, Christine, advisor
Matheson, Jennifer, committee member
Vacha-Haase, Tammi, committee member

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The demographics of the United States indicate a growing number of individuals 65 years old and older. These aging generations have similar as well as different behavioral health issues as compared to younger generations. Marriage and family therapists are psychotherapy providers who may begin to see older adults in therapy at greater numbers than previously experienced. Yet, whether these practitioners are prepared for older adult clients is questionable. The hypothesis for this research project states that greater amounts of education/training in aging issues and gerontological study that a marriage and family therapists have will be related to higher knowledge levels of and more positive attitudes towards the older population. The measures used in the study were the Facts on Aging Quiz (multiple choice format) and the Aging Semantic Differential. Marriage and family therapists in the state of Colorado comprised the sample. The total number of recruited participants was 1222; the final number of participants was 65. Statistical analyses included Pearson's correlations and a MANOVA. The results of the data did not support the hypothesis. No relationship existed between education/training and knowledge of and attitude towards older adults. The instrument used to measure knowledge in this study may help explain the unexpected results. Biased language as well as the order of the knowledge and attitude instruments may have influenced the results. Although no statistical relationship was found among the variables, the results point to a low knowledge level on the part of the sample of marriage and family therapists that may negatively affect their ability to support older adult clients.


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marriage and family therapy
older adults


Associated Publications