Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor's Name

Gail Hills Maguire

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Paulette Johnson

Third Advisor's Name

Susan Kaplan


Older people, Care, United States, College students, Attitudes

Date of Defense



An elderly person with declining physical and mental abilities associated with aging or disease, often needs assistance from others for functional activities. The beliefs in autonomy and paternalism of those who render assistance to the elderly may influence their behavior toward the elderly. The purpose of this study was to identify university students' beliefs regarding autonomy and paternalism in caregiving of the elderly and to determine if there were any differences in beliefs between educational levels. Seventy-two undergraduate and graduate occupational therapy students (mean age 28.3) volunteered to participate in this study. The measurement instruments included: the Respect for Autonomy Scale (Cicirelli, 1989) and Paternalism Scale (Cicirelli, 1989) and a demographic survey. Overall, students agreed more with autonomous statements and remained neutral with paternalistic statements. The t-tests showed a significant difference in beliefs between educational levels. The graduate students disagreed more with paternalistic statements than undergraduate students.




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