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Croatian students of physiotherapy attitudes towards elderly persons

      Relevance: With increases in life expectancy and increasing numbers of older patients attitudes of physiotherapy students towards the elderly may affect the quality of care they will provide in the future to the elderly. All ready today according to the UN criteria Croatia is classified in the fourth group of countries with “very old population”, the share of older than 65 years is higher than 15.62%.
      Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine Croatian undergraduate physiotherapy student's attitudes towards elderly persons. Our objective was to provide insight into the views towards the elderly of physiotherapy students.
      Methods/analysis: The cross-sectional study research was conducted during January, 2016. The participants were randomly chosen 40 first year students of physiotherapy at the College of Applied Sciences Lavoslav Ružička in Vukovar. The instrument used to conduct this research was composed of 18 items based on Kogan's attitude towards the Old Persons (ATOP) scale, that originally consists of 34 items, the questioner is consisted out of positive and negative statements that are scored between 1 and 5, where 1 is disagree strongly, and 5 is I agree strongly. Method of descriptive statistics was used to interpret the results.
      Results: 12 (30%) of physiotherapy students graded with grade 4 statement “Most old people get set in their ways and are unable to change”, 9 (30%) of students graded with grade 5 the statement “I feel most old people would prefer to quit work as soon as pensioned or their children can support them”. The positive attitudes related with attitudes towards the elderly persons were demonstrated in the statement “I feel people grow wiser with the coming of old age” where 16 (40%) students graded the statement with grade 4. And 18 (45%) graded with grade 4 the statement. One of the most interesting and entertaining qualities of most old people is their accounts of their past experiences.
      Discussion and conclusions: The conducted research suggests that first year physiotherapy students generally demonstrate moderately positive attitudes towards the elderly. Ultimately the student's attitudes can influence their interaction towards the elderly, so that raises the question whether the students during their education will receive enough needed information that would adequately prepare them for clinical practice.
      Impact and implications: This study provides insight into physiotherapy student's attitudes towards the elderly. In order for future physiotherapists to provide optimal service to a growing elderly population new knowledge concerning the elderly people should be introduced in to the physiotherapy study curriculum.
      Funding acknowledgement: The study was not funded.