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Lost in translation: how can education about dementia be effectively integrated into medical school contexts? A realist synthesis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ellen Tullo, Dr Luisa WakelingORCiD, Dr Rachel Pearse, Dr Andrew Teodorczuk



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. OBJECTIVES: The prevalence of dementia in both community and hospital settings requires a clinical workforce that is skilled in diagnosis and management of the condition to competently care for patients. Though evidence of successful educational interventions about dementia exists, effective translation into medical school curricula is the exception rather than the norm. DESIGN: We adopted a realist synthesis approach following Realist And MEta-narrative Evidence Syntheses: Evolving Standards (RAMESES) guidelines to answer the following questions: (1) what are the barriers to integrating effective interventions about dementia into medical school curricula and (2) where they are successfully delivered, what are the contextual factors that allow for this enactment? DATA SOURCES: We searched PubMed, Embase, CINAHL and PsycINFO using the MesH terms Schools, Medical; Students, Medical; Education, Medical AND Neurocognitive disorders or the closest possible set of terms within each database. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Undergraduate or graduate entry medical school programme, teaching and learning focussing on dementia, evaluating student outcomes (satisfaction, knowledge, skills, attitudes or behaviours), interventions described clearly enough to classify teaching method, any research design (quantitative and qualitative), English language. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: We used a shared spreadsheet to enter key information about eligible studies and the reasons for excluding studies that did not fit eligibility criteria. We extracted descriptive data about the nature of educational interventions and narrative information as to barriers and facilitators to implementing those interventions. RESULTS: Our initial literature search identified 16 relevant papers for review. Systematic extraction of data informed the development of an initial programme theory (IPT) structured around four contextual barriers: 'culture', 'concern for patient welfare', 'student attitudes' and 'logistics' with associated facilitatory mechanisms embed medical education about dementia. CONCLUSIONS: We outline the process of generating our IPT, including overlap with Cultural Historical Activity Theory. We outline our intention to refine our programme theory through ongoing review of the evidence base and collaboration with stakeholders, with the aim of finalising a model for successful integration of dementia education.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tullo E, Wakeling L, Pearse R, Kheng Khoo T, Teodorczuk A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2023

Volume: 13

Issue: 11

Online publication date: 17/11/2023

Acceptance date: 12/10/2023

Date deposited: 11/12/2023

ISSN (print): 2044-6055

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-077028

PubMed id: 37977864


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