A Review of a Study Measuring Ageism in East Tennessee

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Journal Assignment: A Review of a Study Measuring Ageism in East Tennessee, USA Diana Gunderson - 11036487
Psychology 216 – Prof. Dr. Morrison
University of Saskatchewan
October 27, 2009

Journal Assignment: A Review of a Study Measuring Ageism in East Tennessee, USA The renowned gerontologist Dr. Robert Butler defines ageism as “stereotyping and discrimination against people because they are old” (McGuire, Klein, & Chen, p. 11, 2008). McGuire, Klein, and Chen (2008) were interested in determining the amount of ageism present amongst older adults in East Tennessee, USA. These researchers also wanted to examine the types of ageism reported by such individuals. McGuire et al. (2008) hoped that their results from this study would be a precursor for creating strategies to fight ageism in the region. Method

McGuire et al. (2008) used convenience sampling methods to recruit community-dwelling older adults. The researchers were interested in surveying individuals 60 years of age or older (McGuire et al., 2008). They obtained 247 participants who qualified for the study (mean age = 74; 75% females). The survey was administered at eight locations in four counties in the East Tennessee area (McGuire et al., 2008). Of the eight survey sites, five of them were considered urban/suburban while three of them were considered rural. There were 151 participants from the urban/suburban sites and 96 participants from the rural sites (McGuire et al., 2008).

McGuire et al. (2008) utilized a cross-sectional survey design involving the Ageism Survey. The Ageism Survey is designed to measure the frequency of ageism in different societies, determine which subgroups of the elderly report the most ageism, and determine which types of ageism are most common (McGuire et al., 2008). The survey includes 20 items that examine the frequency of occurrence of ageism along with examples of negative attitudes, stereotypes and institutional and personal discrimination towards the elderly (McGuire et al., 2008). Results

The participants revealed that ageism is prevalent and widespread. Roughly 84% of the participants stated experiencing ageism at least once and 71% of the participants reported experiencing ageism more than once (McGuire et al., 2008). 69% of the participants indicated that they were told a joke that made fun of the elderly, while 51% reported that they were given a birthday card that made of the elderly. Furthermore, 40% of the participants stated that they were disregarded or not taken seriously due to their age, while 37.5% indicated that they were patronized due to their age (McGuire et al., 2008). Finally, 22.8% of the participants stated that they were treated with less respect and less consideration as result of their elderly status (McGuire et al., 2008).

In addition, McGuire et al. (2008) found that a statistically significant difference existed between the urban/suburban and the rural locations in terms of the frequency of ageism. The participants from the urban/suburban areas indicated a higher rate of ageism than their rural counterparts on the following survey items: received an offensive birthday card, was told a joke that made fun of the elderly, was ignored due to their age, and a doctor assumed their ailments were age-related (McGuire et al., 2008). The rural participants reported a higher occurrence only for the following event: someone thought I couldn’t understand due to my age (McGuire et al., 2008). Discussion and Conclusions

Based on their results, McGuire et al. (2008) concluded that ageism is thriving in the USA. Their results support findings from previous research and confirm the existence of ageism. McGuire et al. (2008) also mentioned that their study reveals the utility of the Ageism Survey and the importance of measuring ageism in society. They state that the results obtained by the Ageism Survey are useful for focusing the direction for interventions...
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