College of Health Professions

Date of Last Revision

2023-05-08 15:44:46


Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Honors Course

SLPA: 496-002

Number of Credits


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Date of Expected Graduation

Spring 2023


There is an increasing demand for speech language pathologists (SLPs) willing to work with older adults. Demographic trends warn that the number of people over 65 will double by 2050 (Vincent, 2010). Studies reveal that only 37.3% of SLP students prefer to work with older adults after graduation (Leonard et al., 2016). Ageism is affecting speech-language pathology and related health care professions. Research within the last five years has shown that ageism towards older adults exists across multiple medical professions in all fields and settings (Heape et al., 2020). Interdisciplinary fields report negative feelings towards older adults (Ortiz-Rubio et al., 2020). Medical and nursing students have identified negative attitudes surrounding stereotypes and complex illnesses as barriers preventing them from pursuing work with older adults (Fisher et al., 2022). The purposes of this study were twofold: (1) to examine existing literature on SLP and interdisciplinary health profession students’ preferences and attitudes towards working with older adults and (2) to develop a survey instrument to identify barriers preventing SLP students from working with older adults. The survey instrument was developed to identify any changes in students’ perceptions of working with older adults that may occur between undergraduate and graduate school; how students’ previous interactions and experiences with older adults relate to their attitudes of working with older adults in the future; how pre-existing attitudes toward older adults influence employment preferences of speech-language pathology students; if speech language pathology students’ attitudes and experiences are similar to students in other health care professions (e.g., nursing); and if there is a relationship between courses related to aging and older adults and student preference for age of patient population. A twenty-eight-question survey was developed to examine attitudes and barriers to students' decisions to work with the older adult populations. This survey has the potential to supplement the existing literature to identify if the field will be able to meet the demand for SLPs willing to treat older adults. Application of this survey in practice may reveal information that contributes to students’ decisions regarding population preference and will provide insight to create recommendations for SLP programs to ensure they provide students with appropriate opportunities to foster and maintain the willingness to treat older adults.

Research Sponsor

Dr. Reif

First Reader

Dr. Palasik

Second Reader

Dr. Meibos

Honors Faculty Advisor

Dr. Steiger

Proprietary and/or Confidential Information




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