Designing and evaluating an episodic, problem-based geriatric curriculum

L. Z. Nieman, M. S. Vernon, R. D. Horner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Medical school geriatric training has been directed primarily at improving students' attitudes and knowledge about elderly patients. This study evaluated a clinical problem-based geriatric course for medical students. Methods: The two-semester geriatric course was presented to 136 second-year medical students. Faculty taught students about clinical reasoning in ambulatory geriatrics using written cases, patient-actors, literature reviews, lectures, and discussions. At the end of the course, students' clinical activity was evaluated using audiotaped interviews with standardized geriatric patients. A questionnaire examined students' knowledge, attitudes, and their evaluation of the course. Results: All 136 students completed the post-course standardized patient interview, and 105 (77%) completed questionnaires. Students rated the course favorably and had high confidence scores for ability to assess geriatric problems. Students' knowledge increased during the course compared to a precourse examination (P<.05). Evaluation of post-course standardized patient interviews revealed that students who scored higher on the knowledge test tended to ask more psychosocial questions during the interview (r=0.38). Students who scored higher on the attitude test spent more time eliciting patients' feelings during the interview (r=0.38). Those with lower scores on the attitude test spent more time asking factual, nonpsychosocial questions (r=-0.28). Conclusions: A clinical problem-based geriatric course for preclinical medical students can be successful in improving students' knowledge. Attitudes and knowledge effect the questions a student asks during the medical interview.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-381
Number of pages4
JournalFamily Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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