Roles of age and familiarity in learning health information

Scott C. Brown, Denise C. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The authors investigated the hypothesis that prior knowledge of a medical topic can reduce age differences in learning of new medical information. Younger and older adults received new information on either a familiar disease or an unfamiliar disease. Participants then answered questions assessing their memory for the information. A control group received no new information, but answered the same questions, in order to assess prior knowledge. Older adults learned less information than younger adults, regardless of the familiarity of the information or the type of memory test (i.e., recall vs. recognition). Both age groups learned less new information about a familiar disease than an unfamiliar disease. Health professionals should be aware that both young and old patients may have "resistance" to learning about familiar diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-710
Number of pages16
JournalEducational Gerontology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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