Effect of group discussions on employee attitudes toward the aged
The problem for this study was to determine the extent to which a series of group discussions concerning the problems and needs of the aged causes a change in attitudes toward the aged among employees of residential mental health facilities for the aged. The study also sought to determine how participants felt about the discussion series. Other questions central to the study were:
Are attitudes toward the aged related to the age of the employees?
Are these attitudes related to employee job tenure?
Are these attitudes related to employee education level?
Are these attitudes related to the type of job position of the employees?
Three case studies about the lives of aged individuals were used as a basis for discussion. Forty-eight employees at each of two Virginia geriatric facilities were randomly assigned to groups of twelve to participate in the discussion series. Group leaders from outside of the institutions led the discussion, after which an attitude instrument was administered to the participants and to a control group of equal size.
Before testing to determine if a difference existed between the treatment and control groups, the mean criterion scores (attitude scores) were adjusted. The analysis of covariance was utilized in making the adjustment using age, job tenure, education level, type of job position, and location as covariates.
Partial correlations were computed and tested to determine the relation of age to attitude, tenure to attitude, education level to attitude, type of job position to attitude, and location to attitude.
The findings indicated that the discussion series did result in a change in attitude among participants. Participants rated the series as an above-average educational experience, indicating that it was valuable and rewarding. The partial correlations between age and attitude and between education level and attitude were significant at the .05 level, with older employees evidencing less favorable attitudes and more highly educated employees evidencing more favorable attitudes. Although these two correlations were significant, they were still relatively low; that is, the strength of each relationship was not great.
It was recommended that further study be undertaken to determine the stability of the attitude change achieved in the study, and to indicate the value of such change in terms of more favorable behavior toward the aged.