The elderly sick role: an experimental analysis

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Aged; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Prognosis; Retirement; Set (Psychology); *Sick Role


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


This experiment sought to determine whether young people ascribe different sick-role expectations to the elderly than to the middle-aged. The study also examined whether such expectations are a function of age per se or of work status. The experiment was a two X two factorial design employing two levels of age and two levels of work status. Sick-role expectations were elicited by the use of vignettes in which illness characteristics and background information were identical, but age and work status were varied. Results partially support the contention that the young ascribe an elderly sick role. Respondents were more likely to expect an old, rather than a middle-aged man, not to recover. However, respondents were also more likely to expect reduction in role obligations when the man was retired than when he was employed, regardless of age.

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Citation: Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1984-1985;20(3):161-5. DOI 10.2190/F0HF-E83X-BCQB-VWWV

Journal/Book/Conference Title

International journal of aging and human development

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID