Age-Based Healthcare Stereotype Threat during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Older adults have been identified as a high-risk population for COVID-19 by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Though well-intentioned, this nonspecific designation highlights stereotypes of older adults as frail and in need of protection, exacerbating negative age-based stereotypes that can have adverse effects on older adults’ well-being. Healthcare stereotype threat (HCST) is concern about being judged by providers and receiving biased medical treatment based on stereotypes about one’s identity–in this case age. Given the attention to older adults’ physical vulnerabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults may be especially worried about age-based judgments from medical providers and sensitive to ageist attitudes about COVID-19. Online data collection (April 13 to May 15, 2020) with adults aged 50 and older (N = 2325, M = 63.11, SD = 7.53) examined age-based HCST. Respondents who worried that healthcare providers judged them based on age (n = 584) also reported more negative COVID-19 reactions, including perceived indifference toward older adults, young adults’ lack of concern about health, and unfavorable media coverage of older adults. The results highlight the intersection of two pandemics: COVID-19 and ageism. We close with consideration of the clinical implications of the results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-584
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Gerontological Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19 worry
  • Stigma
  • healthcare stereotype threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Age-Based Healthcare Stereotype Threat during the COVID-19 Pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this