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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Teaching and learning about dementia in UK medical schools: a national survey

Ellen StClair Tullo1 and Adam L Gordon2*

Author Affiliations

1 Newcastle NIHR Biomedical Research Centre in Ageing and Chronic Disease Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK

2 Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing, School of Community Health Sciences, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

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BMC Geriatrics 2013, 13:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-29

Published: 27 March 2013



Dementia is an increasingly common condition and all doctors, in both primary and secondary care environments, must be prepared to competently manage patients with this condition. It is unclear whether medical education about dementia is currently fit for purpose. This project surveys and evaluates the nature of teaching and learning about dementia for medical students in the UK.


Electronic questionnaire sent to UK medical schools.


23/31 medical schools responded. All provided some dementia-specific teaching but this focussed more on knowledge and skills than behaviours and attitudes. Only 80% of schools described formal assessment of dementia-specific learning outcomes. There was a widespread failure to adequately engage the multidisciplinary team, patients and carers in teaching, presenting students with a narrow view of the condition. However, some innovative approaches were also highlighted.


Although all schools taught about dementia, the deficiencies identified represent a failure to sufficiently equip medical students to care for patients with dementia which, given the prevalence of the condition, does not adequately prepare them for work as doctors. Recommendations for improving undergraduate medical education about dementia are outlined.

Dementia; Education; Students; Medical; Curriculum