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UK medical teaching about ageing is improving but there is still work to be done

Age and Ageing: UK medical teaching about ageing is improving but there is still work to be doneIntroduction: in 2008, a UK national survey of undergraduate teaching about ageing and geriatric medicine identified deficiencies, including failure to adequately teach about elder abuse, pressure ulcers and bio- and social gerontology. We repeated the survey in 2013 to consider whether the situation had improved.

Method: the deans of all 31 UK medical schools were invited to nominate a respondent with an overview of their undergraduate curriculum. Nominees were invited by email and letter to complete an online questionnaire quantifying topics taught, type of teaching and assessment undertaken, and the amount of time spent on teaching.

Results: one school only taught pre-clinical medicine and declined to participate. Of the 30 remaining schools, 20 responded and 19 provided analysable data. The majority of the schools (95–100%) provided teaching in delirium, dementia, stroke, falls, osteoporosis, extra-pyramidal disorders, polypharmacy, incontinence, ethics and mental capacity. Only 68% of the schools taught about elder abuse. Thirty-seven per cent taught a recognised classification of the domains of health used in Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA). The median (range) total time spent on teaching in ageing and geriatric medicine was 55.5 (26–192) h. There was less reliance on informal teaching and improved assessment:teaching ratios compared with the 2008 survey.

Conclusions: there was an improvement in teaching and assessment of learning outcomes in ageing and geriatric medicine for UK undergraduates between 2008 and 2013. However, further work is needed to increase the amount of teaching time devoted to ageing and to improve teaching around elder abuse and the domains of health used in CGA.

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