Nursing Students' Intentions to Work in Dementia Care: Influence of Age, Ageism, and Perceived Barriers

Ellen MCKENZIE, Patricia M. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Given a projected threefold increase in people living with dementia globally by 2050 (World Health Organization, 2012), attracting nurses to work in this area will be critical to meet demand. This study examined the role of age, positive ageism, negative ageism, and aged-care placement completion in predicting nursing students' intentions to work in dementia care. Perceived barriers to working in dementia care were also explored through a thematic analysis. Participants were 135 undergraduate nursing students from one regional Australian university (ages ranging from 18 to 55years) who completed an online survey. Hierarchical multiple linear regression analysis revealed that age (p =.001) and positive ageism (p <.001) were associated with greater intentions to work in aged-care. A thematic analysis of perceived barriers to working in dementia care showed five themes consisting of 11 subthemes: profession (conditions, culture, diversity, interest); personal demands (emotional, physical); patient contact (communication, safety); experience (previous, lack); and no barriers. Younger students (<25 years of age) were more likely to nominate emotional demands as potential barriers, whereas older students were more likely to cite work conditions. Patient communication and interest in other areas of nursing were identified as barriers across age groups. The findings from this study suggest that educational providers could target students with specific characteristics associated with greater work intentions in dementia care, such as age and positive ageism. Perceived barriers to working in dementia care indicate possible areas of improvement that may attract more students to this field of practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-633
Number of pages16
JournalEducational Gerontology: an international journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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