Geriatric pharmacology and pharmacotherapy education for health professionals and students: a systematic review

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Abstract

AIMS

Given the reported high rates of medication errors, especially in elderly patients, we hypothesized that current curricula do not devote enough time to the teaching of geriatric pharmacology. This review explores the quantity and nature of geriatric pharmacology education in undergraduate and postgraduate curricula for health professionals.

METHODS

Pubmed, Embase and PsycINFO databases were searched (from 1 January 2000 to 11 January 2011), using the terms ‘pharmacology’ and ‘education’ in combination. Articles describing content or evaluation of pharmacology education for health professionals were included. Education in general and geriatric pharmacology was compared.

RESULTS

Articles on general pharmacology education (252) and geriatric pharmacology education (39) were included. The number of publications on education in general pharmacology, but not geriatric pharmacology, has increased over the last 10 years. Articles on undergraduate and postgraduate education for 12 different health disciplines were identified. A median of 24 h (from 15 min to 4956 h) devoted to pharmacology education and 2 h (1–935 h) devoted to geriatric pharmacology were reported. Of the articles on education in geriatric pharmacology, 61.5% evaluated the teaching provided, mostly student satisfaction with the course. The strength of findings was low. Similar educational interventions were not identified, and evaluation studies were not replicated.

CONCLUSIONS

Recently, interest in pharmacology education has increased, possibly because of the high rate of medication errors and the recognized importance of evidence-based medical education. Nevertheless, courses on geriatric pharmacology have not been evaluated thoroughly and none can be recommended for use in training programmes. Suggestions for improvements in education in general and geriatric pharmacology are given.

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