Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Psychology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Ed Helmes

Second Supervisor

Richard Burden


Many elderly adults have fears and concerns regarding sexuality, including the impact of chronic disease on sexual function. Typically, society has negative attitudes toward elderly sexual expression with misconceptions, negative stereotyping and myths compounding ageist perceptions that the elderly become asexual with age. Thus knowledge of and attitudes toward sexuality in the elderly has become an area of interest over the past several decades. In an attempt to promote sexual expression as a right for the elderly and physiological changes viewed in terms of positive adjustment, White (1982) developed an instrument to determine knowledge of and attitudes towards sexuality of elderly people. The Ageing Sexual Knowledge and Attitude Srale (ASKAS) is designed to measure the knowledge of and attitudes toward sexuality held by elderly individuals, or any group of people who have an impact upon the sexual expression of elderly people. This current study seeks to determine the koowledge of and attitudes toward sexuality in the elderly among educators of health care professionals. Demographic and experiential variables of respondents (n=360) were compiled to determine their ability to predict knowledge of; attitudes toward; and the koowledge and attitude relationship of sexuality in the elderly. Lecturers in medicine (n~25), m(n~l 09), ocoupational therapy (n~33), physiotherapy (n~30), psychology (n~93) and social work (n~53) from within Australia, New Zealand and South Africa volunteered as participants. The existence of a weak but significant relationship between knowledge and attitudes of sexuality in the elderly was found. Age was found to be the singular variable predictive of attitude. No differences across country or profession of the respondent were found. A discussion of the implications of the knowledge and attitude relationship is given.

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