Preferences for working with people with dementia in undergraduate and newly qualified healthcare professionals

  • Molly Roseanne Hebditch

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Background: With population ageing, an emergent issue in workforce planning is
    how to ensure that future 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 policy and practice priority. Yet research suggests that
    working with older people is unattractive to undergraduate healthcare students.
    However, how students view a career working with people with dementia is not well
    understood, in either related specialties (such as geriatrics or old age mental health)
    or as a general clinical interest. This thesis explores the factors associated with
    preferences for working with people with dementia.

    Method: A sequential mixed-method design was used to develop a conceptual
    framework for understanding career preferences for working with people with
    dementia in student and newly qualified nurses and doctors. The framework was
    derived through the integration of the results from three sub-studies. First, a
    systematic review was conducted, including 62 papers on the factors associated
    with preferences of nursing and medical students for working with people with
    dementia and older adults. Second, a quantitative analysis (n=840) of longitudinal
    survey data on career preferences was performed. Third, qualitative interviews
    (n=27) were conducted with newly qualified healthcare professionals and analysed
    using grounded theory.

    Results: A conceptual framework for understanding preferences is presented and
    indicates that the key factors related to dementia preferences include: student
    characteristics (e.g. gender, attitudes and knowledge) and whether students
    perceive their attributes are aligned with dementia care; the impact of experiences
    including dementia educational programmes; the importance of making a difference
    to patients’ lives; the perception of working with people with dementia as a ‘different
    type of care’; perceptions of people with dementia including care challenges; and
    career characteristics.

    Conclusion: This thesis is the first study of career preferences for working with
    people with dementia in healthcare students in the UK. It adds to the literature by
    presenting a conceptualisation of these preferences that provides both a
    framework for future research of career preferences and recommendations for
    undergraduate education in dementia.
    Date of Award2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorStephanie Daley (Supervisor) & Juliet Wright (Supervisor)

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