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The number of elderly patients presenting to emergency departments (EDs) is rising in line with the growing geriatric population. There are valid concerns whether the existing emergency care system is prepared to deal with a larger geriatric population presenting with acute medical problems. The objective of this study is to assess baseline knowledge and attitudes of doctors working in the ED toward the elderly patient and to determine the factors that influence emergency doctors’ knowledge and attitudes.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among emergency doctors in ED of Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (Hospital USM) from February 2020 to July 2020 using a validated questionnaire. The questionnaire consists of three sections, namely questions on sociodemographic background of the respondents, their knowledge and core attitudes toward elderly. The responses were analyzed using descriptive analysis, simple and multiple logistic regression analysis.
A total of 198 ED doctors in Hospital USM participated in the study. More than half of the respondents held positive attitudes toward elderly (53.5%). However, the majority of respondents had poor geriatric knowledge level (76.3%). The age of the doctor (AOR 0.08; 95%CI: 0.01, 0.99; p=0.049) was a factor that influenced attitudes toward geriatric patients. Nevertheless, no single factor was found to influence good geriatric knowledge. A significant weak positive correlation (r=0.154, p=0.031) was found between geriatric knowledge and attitudes toward elderly.
A more innovative and structured geriatric continuing medical education should be implemented to enhance the knowledge and dispel negative attitudes, so emergency doctors able to manage elderly patients more confidently.
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