Changing and learning in geriatrics/gerontology: A retrospective

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The purpose of this study of health care professionals was to find answers to the following research questions: (1) What changes related to geriatrics/gerontology occurred in the last year? (2) If changes occurred, what factors caused or led to those changes? (3) Did learning play a part in the changes? Twenty randomly chosen participants in the First Summer Geriatric Institute were questioned using a semi-structured interview format. Data analysis was performed using the constant comparative methods. Changes were categorized by types (i.e., accommodations, incremental changes, and structural changes). Each change was then analyzed according to the model's framework (i.e., forces for change, clarity of image of the future change, self-assessment of learning needs, and learning activities). One half of the changes were found to be incremental changes, consisting of adjustments in some element of life or practice. The other half were structural changes involving complex additions, subtractions, or reorganization of major elements. Participant responses indicated that multiple forces were involved in each change; change was a long process involving a series of interrelated experiences. Analysis of the forces initiating change revealed that professional forces were the strongest initial forces for change, followed closely by professional/social forces. Although learning accompanied every change, the change process varied according to the type of change (e.g., workshops or classes were chosen by those making incremental changes, while colleagues and experience were chosen by those making structural changes).

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