A prospective controlled trial of the influence of a geriatrics home visit program on medical student knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards care of the elderly

Gerald D. Denton, Rechell Rodriguez, Paul A. Hemmer, Justin Harder, Patricia Short, Janice L. Hanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

PURPOSE: To determine the impact of a geriatrics home visit program for third-year medical students on attitudes, skills, and knowledge. METHODS: Using a mixed methods, prospective, controlled trial, volunteer control group students (n∈=∈17) at two sites and intervention group students (n∈=∈16) at two different sites within the same internal medicine clerkship were given Internet and CDROM-based geriatric self-study materials. Intervention group students identified a geriatrics patient from their clinical experience, performed one "home" visit (home, nursing home, or rehabilitation facility) to practice geriatric assessment skills, wrote a structured, reflective paper, and presented their findings in small-group teaching settings. Papers were qualitatively analyzed using the constant comparative method for themes. All students took a pre-test and post-test to measure changes in geriatrics knowledge and attitudes. Results: General attitudes towards caring for the elderly improved more in the intervention group than in the control group (9.8 vs 0.5%; p∈=∈0.04, effect size 0.78). Medical student attitudes towards their home care training in medical school (21.7 vs 3.2%; p∈=∈0.02, effect size 0.94) improved, as did attitudes towards time and reimbursement issues surrounding home visits (10.1 vs -0.2%; p∈=∈0.02, effect size 0.89). Knowledge of geriatrics improved in both groups (13.4 vs 15.2% improvement; p∈=∈0.73). Students described performing a mean of seven separate geriatric assessments (range 4-13) during the home visit. Themes that emerged from the qualitative analysis of the reflective papers added depth and understanding to the quantitative data and supported results concerning attitudinal change. Conclusions: While all participants gained geriatrics knowledge during their internal medicine clerkship, students who performed a home visit had improved attitudes towards the elderly and described performing geriatric assessment skills. Requiring little faculty time, a geriatrics home visit program like this one may be a useful clerkship addition to foster medical students' professional growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-605
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Education
  • Geriatrics
  • Home visit
  • Medical student
  • Narrative writing
  • Professionalism

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