Continuing education in geriatrics for rural health care providers in Uganda: A needs assessment
Population trends in developing countries show an increasing population of older adults (OAs), especially in rural areas. The purpose of this study was to explore the geriatrics continuing education needs of health care providers (HCPs) working in rural Uganda. The study employed a descriptive design to collect data from HCPs working in Apac district, a rural district in northern Uganda. The 240 HCPs (mean age 33.8±10.5 years) from whom data were collected were nurses (52%), physician assistants (17%), social workers (12%), laboratory technologists (10%) and physicians (10%). Self-administered questionnaires composed of the Palmore’s Facts on Aging Quiz (FAQ1) and Kogan’s attitude towards old people (KAOP) scale were used for data collection. Results. Most HCPs (63%) regularly cared for OAs but their professional education did not include geriatric-specific courses (69%). The majority of HCPs had a poor or fair geriatric knowledge (88%) (FAQ1 mean score 11.6±2.3), but had a positive attitude towards OAs (80%) (KOAP mean score 115.9±11.5). Positive attitude was associated with personal experiences with OAs and a desire for a future career in geriatrics (p≤0.05). Conclusion. In Uganda training curricula for health professionals have not evolved to address the changing demographic trends showing increasing numbers of OAs. Consequently, there is a significant knowledge gap in certain aspects of health care, such as geriatrics, among currently practising HCPs. There is need for tailored geriatrics continuing education programmes to bridge the knowledge and skill gaps to ensure quality health care for OAs.