Objectives: To evaluate the attitudes and knowledge of medical students (MS1-3), internal medicine residents (postgraduate years 1 to 3 (PGY1-3)), and geriatric medicine fellows about elderly patients before implementation of a new geriatrics curriculum.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: An academic medical center.
Participants: Two hundred eleven people participated: 54 MS1, 52 MS2, 50 MS3, 20 PGY1, 12 PGY2, 12 PGY3, and 11 geriatric medicine fellows.
Measurements: Each participant completed a questionnaire, including a 16-item geriatrics attitude scale, and a 23-item knowledge test (both revised versions of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Geriatrics Survey). Pearson correlation coefficients and t tests were used for statistical analyses.
Results: Both surveys demonstrated high internal consistency (alpha=0.70 and 0.71, respectively). Knowledge test scores increased with advancing level of training. MS1 and MS2 scored significantly lower and fellows scored significantly higher than others. PGY3 scored significantly higher than PGY1 on the knowledge test. All groups demonstrated positive attitudes toward geriatric patients (score>3.5). MS1 and fellows had significantly more favorable attitudes scores than more advanced students and residents.
Conclusion: The results suggest that the UCLA Attitudes Scale and Knowledge Test can be used reliably to assess attitudes and knowledge level across all levels of medical education and training. The information from this study will be used to implement a more structured and comprehensive geriatrics curriculum across all trainee levels to improve attitudes and knowledge in the care of the geriatric patient.