Medical students are not receiving training in spotting elder abuse on half of university courses, research reveals today.
The study, published by the British Geriatrics Society, found 47% of medical schools included the topic on the curriculum, despite it being cited in General Medical Council guidance for medical course content. This is despite a fifth of older people presenting at emergency departments reporting abuse.
Seventeen of the 31 medical schools answered the survey, conducted by the University of Nottingham.
The study, conducted in 2008, found other older people’s issues such as dementia, stroke, falls and osteoporosis were found to be well covered by most medical schools.
Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse, said: “It’s a major area of concern for us because the primary point of contact [for abused adults] is almost exclusively health professionals.”
FitzGerald added he was not surprised at the findings as they echoed the concerns expressed by the health select committee in 2004, which recommended training in elder abuse be made mandatory for nurses.
Adam Gordon, lead researcher, described the findings as worrying and said the research team were sending copies of the study to all UK medical schools to encourage them to address the gap.
He added: “In view of the fact that older people make up the largest single group of patients using the NHS, with almost two-thirds of general and acute hospital beds in use by people over 65, it is essential that all medical undergraduates learn about ageing and the appropriate management of older people.”