Aging Ment Health. 2022 Aug 29:1-14. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2022.2116399. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: Health practitioners’ understanding of the impact of age-based stereotype threat (ABST) on the cognitive test performance of older adults is not well understood. This study aimed to investigate health practitioners’ ability to recognize the influence of ABST in the cognitive assessment of older adults and their perceptions of its impact in practice.
METHODS: One-hundred and twenty-nine health practitioners (86% female; M age = 39.75, SD = 11.50) with experience in conducting cognitive assessments with older adults (mainly psychologists and occupational therapists) completed an online survey assessing demographic and practice characteristics, aging beliefs, a hypothetical cognitive assessment scenario, and perceived impact of ABST on practice.
RESULTS: Overall, health practitioners rated ABST factors in the assessment scenario as less detrimental to cognitive performance than internal and external factors. In a hierarchical regression model, lower recognition of ABST and negative aging beliefs significantly accounted for lower perceived impact of ABST on older adults’ cognitive test performance in practice (R2 = .37, p < .001).
CONCLUSION: Health practitioners may not recognize the influence of ABST on assessment findings, especially if they hold negative aging beliefs. The findings highlight the need to improve health practitioners’ knowledge of ABST to increase the validity of cognitive testing in older adults.
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