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Medical students' attitudes towards people with dementia: An International survey

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ellen Tullo, Professor Tony Young


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Background: The changing demographics of societies mean that medical students internationally must be sufficiently prepared to care for patients with age-related conditions such as dementia. However, there is current concern that there are deficiencies in the knowledge, skills and attitudes of professionals caring for people with dementia (PWD), and that education and training must be improved at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Improving medical education about dementia will require multiple strategies, but a better understanding of student attitudes is likely to facilitate the design and delivery of appropriate teaching interventions. This study was, as far as we were aware, the first investigation of the attitudes of medical students towards PWD - the aim was to survey attitudes of students in different year groups, at a medical school with a UK and Malaysian campus. Sampling methods: Pragmatic samples of 1st and 3rd-year students based in the UK and Malaysia completed the Approaches to Dementia Questionnaire (ADQ), a previously validated attitudes scale, administered using paper-based or electronic means. Participation was voluntary and anonymous. Group comparisons were made using nonparametric statistical analysis. Results: 240 1st-year and 53 3rd-year students completed the ADQ. 3rd-year students expressed more positive attitudes than 1st-year students (p < 0.01). A significant difference in attitude scores between national groups was present amongst 1st-year students but not 3rd-year students. There was no difference between genders. Conclusions: Medical students’ attitudes towards PWD were generally positive and comparable with other professional groups previously surveyed. It remains unclear why there was a difference in attitude scores between national groups at entry level, but this may relate to cultural factors. Qualitative data collection to further explore the nature of medical student attitudes towards PWD, and related learning needs, is ongoing.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tullo ES, Young TJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Age and Ageing

Year: 2013

Volume: 42

Issue: s2

Pages: ii8-ii9

Print publication date: 01/03/2013

ISSN (print): 0002-0729

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2834

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/ageing/aft016

Notes: Presentation to the British Geriatrics Society Autumn Meeting, 28th-30th November 2012, Harrogate.


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