Bettencourt da Câmara, Stella
ISCSP - ULISBOA, Portugal (School of Social and Political Sciences - University of Lisbon)
The increase of older population has two important implications for social work students: (1) an increase demand for social workers; (2) the need for social workers to be prepared for working with old people and their families and for dealing with the changes that this ageing will bring to all settings and fields of practice. Now, the attitudes of social workers toward old people can have a significant impact on the quality the services they render. Studies made in several European and non-European countries have shown that social work students have positive attitudes toward old people. Is this also true of the Portuguese case? And, if so, are there any relevant differences between Portuguese and African students attitudes, given that they came from different cultural traditions regarding the role and status of the old? In the present study the Kogan Attitudes Toward Old People Scale (1961) was applied to 36 social work university students (18 Portuguese and 18 African). The aim is to present some of the results thus obtained, namely with regard to the relationship between the students’ ethnicity and (a) age; (b) gender; (c) whether the student had lived with grandparents; (d) whether the student had regular contacts with senior adults outside their families; (e) whether they considered working with older adults after graduation. The results suggest that there are, indeed, some differences in attitudes between Portuguese and African students, despite of the fact that eight of the latter have lived in Portugal most of their lives.