Uncovering frustrations: A qualitative needs assessment of academic general internists as geriatric care providers and teachers

Craig Tanner, Elizabeth Eckstrom, Sima S. Desai, Carol L. Joseph, Marnie R. Ririe, Judith Bowen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: General internists commonly provide medical care for older adults and geriatric education to trainees, but lack the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfill these tasks. OBJECTIVE: Assess the geriatric training needs of academic general internists in 3 hospital systems in Portland, OR. DESIGN: Ten focus groups and 1 semi-structured interview. Interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis, a well-recognized qualitative technique. PARTICIPANTS: A convenience sample of 22 academic general internists and 8 geriatricians from 3 different teaching hospitals. MEASUREMENTS: We elicited stories of frustration and success in caring for elderly patients and in teaching about their care. We asked geriatricians to recount their experiences as consultants to general internists and to comment on the training of Internists in geriatrics. RESULTS: In addition to deficits in their medical knowledge and skills, our Internists reported frustration with the process of delivering care to older adults. In particular, they felt ill prepared to guide care transitions for patients, use multidisciplinary teams effectively, and were frustrated with health care system issues. Additionally, general internists' approach to medical care, which largely relies on the medical model, is different from that of geriatricians, which focuses more on social and functional issues. CONCLUSIONS: Although our findings may not be broadly representative, improving our general internists' abilities to care for the elderly and to teach learners how to do the same should address deficits in medical knowledge and skills, barriers to the processes of delivering care, and philosophical approaches to care. Prioritizing and quantifying these needs and measuring the effectiveness of curricula to address them are areas for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-55
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Curriculum development
  • Faculty development
  • General internal medicine
  • Geriatrics
  • Medical education
  • Qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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