Working with Older Adults Scale: Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior. By: Graham, Kirsten L; Rosén, Lee A. Gerontologist. Sep2020, Vol. 60 Issue 6, pe428-e437. 10p.

Background and Objectives: The expanding population of older adults in the United States, coupled with provider hesitance to work with this population, is expected to result in a large service gap, particularly in the health care field. Research on provider hesitancy has largely focused on the impact of attitudes toward older adults and professional competency, with some recent explorations of social influences. There is currently no comprehensive measure that includes all of these areas.

Research Design and Methods: The present study outlines the development of the Working with Older Adults Scale (WOAS), which is grounded in the theory of planned behavior as applied to working with older adults. The WOAS is composed of 20 items, rated on a 7-point Likert scale, that make up four subscales: (i) Attitude, (ii) Subjective Norm, (iii) Perceived Behavioral Control, and (iv) Intention.

Results: Results indicated that, for the young adult college student sample it was developed with, the measure has an excellent factor structure and good internal reliability and construct validity. Consistent with the theory of planned behavior model, intention to work with older adults was significantly predicted by attitudes, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control. Subjective norm accounted for the greatest amount of variance. Further analyses revealed differential effects of age, gender, and experience on the WOAS subscales.

Discussion and Implications: The WOAS, and underlying theory, offers new insights and ideas for future exploration of the service gap between older adults’ needs and professional availability across health service fields.