Preferences of nursing and medical students for working with older adults and people with dementia: a systematic review
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Background: A current issue in workforce planning is ensuring healthcare professionals are both competent and willing to work with older adults with complex needs. This includes dementia care, which is widely recognised as a priority. Yet research suggests that working with older people is unattractive to undergraduate healthcare students. Methods: The aim of this systematic review and narrative synthesis is to explore the factors related to healthcare (medical and nursing) student preferences’ for working with older people and people with dementia. Searches were conducted in five databases: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINHAL, BNI, ERIC. Screening, data extraction and quality appraisal were conducted by two independent reviewers. A narrative, data-based convergent synthesis was conducted. Results: One thousand twenty-four papers were screened (139 full texts) and 62 papers were included for a narrative synthesis. Factors were grouped into seven categories; student characteristics, experiences of students, course characteristics, career characteristics, patient characteristics, work characteristics and the theory of planned behaviour. Conclusion: Health educators should review their role in cultivating student interest in working with older adults, with consideration of student preparation and the perceived value of this work. There is a lack of evidence about the career preferences of students in relation to dementia, and this warrants further research.
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