Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor's Name

Gail Ann Hills

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Paulette Johnson

Third Advisor's Name

Pamela Shaffner

Date of Defense



With the aging population and the increase in health care costs, issues of independence and autonomy will have a greater impact on formal and informal health care. Changes in occupational functioning that accompany increased age has raised the demand
for family assistance to the elderly. It is important for occupational therapists to understand the elderly's perceptions toward autonomy and paternalism in caregiving of the elderly because it is assumed that attitudes and beliefs affect how people interact and care for the elderly.

A convenience sample of 57 Icelandic elderly were surveyed regarding their attitudes toward autonomy and paternalism in caregiving of the elderly. Results indicated that Icelandic elderly held strong beliefs toward autonomy but were undecided toward paternalism. Significant differences were found between groups. Elderly living at home indicated stronger beliefs on both autonomy and paternalism compared to those living in senior housing complexes. Elderly women held stronger beliefs in autonomy in contrast to the males, who were more paternalistic, and married subjects held stronger beliefs than did single respondents.




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