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BACKGROUND: delirium is common and serious, yet frequently missed by medical staff. It is known that delirium is widely taught and examined in UK medical schools; however, what is taught, and how such teaching is delivered, remains unknown. The primary aim of this study was to determine the content of UK undergraduate medical education about delirium and establish how it is delivered. A secondary aim was to highlight and share examples of gold-standard teaching on delirium.
METHODS: all UK undergraduate medical schools were invited to complete a survey. Schools were asked to describe how delirium was taught and to provide delirium-related learning outcomes. Learning outcomes were mapped to the three overarching themes outlined in Tomorrow's Doctors (knowledge, skills and attitudes).
RESULTS: 24/31 schools (77%) provided responses. In line with previous work, delirium was widely taught and examined. 18/24 schools reported at least one learning outcome that mapped to the knowledge domain, 19/24 for the skills domain and 2/24 for the attitudes domain. 4/24 evaluated the impact of sessions and 3/24 involved patients and the public in teaching. 13/24 schools were confident that exposure to delirium was guaranteed. Innovative teaching methods were reported by a number of schools; weblinks to examples are provided.
DISCUSSION: there was widespread failure to address attitudes on delirium within teaching, to evaluate the impact of sessions, to involve patients and the public in teaching and to guarantee exposure to delirium. Future teaching interventions should be directed at attitudinal outcomes, using a synthesis of clinical experience with multidisciplinary interaction and supportive technologies.
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